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Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) – A Complete Overview

Discover the EU's new standard, PEF, guiding organizations towards reliable environmental measurements. Prepare with key insights on Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), PEFCR, and PEF methodology. Updated in March 2024.

Mobius

What is PEF

The Product Environmental Footprint, also the PEF methodology, is an important initiative from the European Commission. PEF changes how companies measure the environmental impact of their products throughout their entire life cycle. It considers both the supply chain and downstream activities. Rooted in the scientific approach of Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs), PEF introduces a standardized way to evaluate environmental factors.

Methodology and Database

PEF comprises two pivotal components: the methodology and the database. The methodology serves as a cohesive framework, delineating precise rules for conducting LCAs in alignment with the EU’s Green Deal and Taxonomy. The latest PEF methodology, marked as Version 3.0, brings notable improvements by introducing detailed subcategories for environmental impact metrics. Additionally, the PEF database supports this methodology, working towards creating a thorough collection of environmental data customized for European industries.

The Goal of PEF

Essentially, PEF strives to strengthen the market for sustainable options while promoting a clear evaluation of environmental impact of products.

Having this new organizational standard in environmental impact measurements will tackle greenwashing and false sustainability claims. Motivating companies to stay on the ‘right sustainability path’- and helping consumers recognize to what extent a product, company, or service is environmentally friendly.

If you are feeling unsure or don’t know where to start, we are here to guide you in embarking on your journey towards PEF compliance. Our solutions – Ecochain Mobius and Helix can help you to start your journey towards implementing PEF methodology into your operations.

Ecochain Solutions

PEFCR: what are they

The PEF Product Category Rules (PEFCR) are Product Environmental Footprint rules specific to different product groups/categories. These Category Rules standardize how LCAs of products in one product group are conducted. They are created voluntarily in collaboration with market leaders and LCA professionals (a minimum of 50% of the market should be involved). Although the European Commission is still developing the details of the PEF, companies can already develop PEFCRs with these guidelines.

The PEF Category Rules are very useful, as they enable comparisons- or even ratings- in the environmental performance of similar products. It’s the standardization we were all looking for.

The difference between LCA and PEF

The PEF methodology is very similar to a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and the common LCA calculation can be used for the PEF calculations.

Just like LCA, PEF is science-based, clear, and quantifies all the environmental impacts over the entire life cycle of your products. This includes your product’s emissions to water, air, and soil, resource use and depletion, the impact of land and water usage, etc.

However:

  • PEF will be more stringent in its rules than a ‘normal’ LCA, due to it being a single method and the specificity of the PEF Category Rules as explained above.
  • The PEF method and its database offer comparability, and are suitable for benchmarking products in the same product groups.

Latest status updates/where we are now

The PEF methodology is still in progress and the so-called ‘transition phase’ (pilot phase). This transition phase is planned to be completed by the end of 2024. This means that using the PEF methodology isn’t mandatory yet.

As we approach the culmination of the transition phase by the end of 2024, the European Commission will continue to refine the nuances of PEF. While not yet mandatory, the construction sector has already witnessed mandatory shifts owing to PEF norms. Stay tuned for the latest European updates, as deadlines and implementation phases loom on the horizon.

At Ecochain, we enable you to create Product Environmental Footprints with ease. We support both the PEF methodology and EN15804+A2 (this is for the Dutch construction sector). We also work with market leaders to help create Product Category Rules (PCRs). Rest assured, you would be in good hands.

Author image Lena  Nickel
Author
Lena Nickel

I'm Researcher & writer at Ecochain. During my studies in Global Sustainability Science, LCA really captured my interest. It continues to fascinate me in my current Master in Energy Science, where I also conduct LCAs myself. I love researching & writing (and learning more!) about these crucial topics now for Ecochain's Knowledge Blog.

All posts by Lena