The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is an initiative from the European Commission to help companies measure the environmental performance of any product throughout its life cycle. It’s designed to tackle greenwashing and false sustainability claims.

What is it?

The EU Product Environmental Footprint outlines an improved common framework to make an appropriate and comparable Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for products sold on the EU market. It aims to ensure that the environmental impacts of these products on sale in the EU are transparently assessed and presented accurately to consumers.

Key elements

There have been many advocates within EU policymakers for a better alignment of the different strands of EU Product Policy such as Ecodesign, Energy-labelling, Green Public Procurement (GPP) and Ecolabel as well as with sector-specific legislation such as the EU Construction Products Regulation (CPR).

All these policies are based on some sort of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA).  It’s thought that the PEF could help to harmonise the scientific assessments used for product policies in the EU when dealing with the same or comparable product categories.
This is because the proliferation of non-substantiated green marketing claims confuses consumers about the real environmental performance of products and services that
they buy.

The Product Environmental Footprint has two main components;

•    The PEF methodology
•    The PEF database.

The PEF methodology includes new cohesive rules for performing LCA’s in line with the EU’s Green Deal and Taxonomy. Currently, there is version 3.0 version of PEF methodology.
The PEF database is designed to support the PEF methodology and create a new standard environmental database for the European industries.

In addition, the intention is to launch PEF Product Category Rules (PEFCR) are Product Environmental Footprint rules specific to different product groups/categories.

These Category Rules will standardise how LCA’s of product in one product group are conducted. The PEF Category Rules will enable comparisons – or even ratings – in the environmental performance of similar products.

A pilot phase ran from 2013 – 2018. The PEF will most likely be finalised, launched, and implemented in 2024.

The PEF Category Rules (PEFCR) for the apparel & footwear industry are:

 Developed by a multi-stakeholder working group, called the Technical Secretariat

  • Completed with inputs from two public consultations and several expert reviews
  • Validated by the European Commission
  • And it creates five benefits for the industry:
  • It defines specific rules tailored to 13 apparel & footwear categories such as t-shirts, dresses, boots, swimwear, etc

The PEF methodology supports the objectives of the European Green Deal initiated by the European Commission, which aims to establish more sustainable growth.

Annexes to the PEF method can be found HERE.

Last updated: 20/11/23

Geographic RegionEurope

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