Sustainable development stands for meeting the needs of present generations without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Social, economic and environmental issues are inseparable and interdependent.
The EU has mainstreamed sustainable development policies through the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (SDS), and the Environmental Technologies Action Plan for which sustainable consumption and production (SCP) is a priority, also highlighted in Europe 2020 strategy. SCP is in this context aimed at promoting economic growth and social cohesion without impairing environmental quality.
JRC supports such this objective through analysis of the relations between technological change, scientific developments, environment, economy and policy approaches. For that, it produces techno-economic analysis of technological options and socio-economic analyses based in analytical modelling.
Sustainable production: Best available techniques
Industrial production processes account for a considerable share of the overall pollution in Europe. The EU has a set of common rules for controlling industrial installations described in the Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU (IED). The JRC manages The European Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Bureau which produces reference documents on Best Available Techniques, the so-called BREFs, which are used by competent authorities in EU member states when issuing operating permits. BREFs incorporate best practices with regard to the resource use, residues and by-product’ reuse and recycling as well as waste generation and management, therefore contributing to the EU initiatives on Circular Economy.
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Sustainable Product Policy
The consumption and production of products is responsible for a large number of environmental problems, ranging from pollution to air, water and soil to increased resource consumption and also negative health impacts. The European Commission addresses this issue through a number of policy instruments which are subsumed under the Sustainable Consumption and Production Action Plan COM (2008) 397
. These include mandatory and voluntary instruments, with the intention to exclude the most damaging products from the European single market, while at the same time giving increased visibility to environmental friendly products.
Best environmental management practice
As contribution to the Environmental Technologies Action Plan the JRC produces techno-economic research on the environmental performance of products, sectors and production processes in order to sustain on evidence-based analysis indications on environmental policies. It also identifies the best environmental management practices – measures or actions that allow organisations to minimise their impact on the environment—of frontrunner organisations in different sectors to help other organisations to detect and replicate them.
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Waste and recycling
In support to the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), and the Resource Efficiency Roadmap, the JRC has developped a set of guidance documents on how to use Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in waste management decision making. The guidance documents can be found on the Life Cycle Thinking website.
The JRC is also in charge of the development of end-of-waste criteria wich includes proposing the definition of end-of-waste criteria, developing a methodology to assess it and applying it to a number of materials. More information: Waste and recycling
Development of the Environmental Footprint methods supports the Communication on Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy and the Resource Efficiency Roadmap, by establishing a common methodological approach to enable Member States and the private sector to assess, display and benchmark the environmental performance of products, services and companies based on a comprehensive assessment of environmental impacts over the life-cycle.
The JRC contributed to the technical guidance documents for the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and the Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF).
The JRC’s input-output economics investigates through analytical modelling the impacts at regional, national or international level of different policies on variables such as gross domestic product, employment, consumption, productivity as well as on the environment. To this end, JRC develops tools for analysis complemented with an environmental database.
More information: Input-output economics