New proposal for measurement of environmental performance of products and organisations

19 April, 2013

Environmental footprint of products and organisations


The European Commission has put forward proposals to standardise measurements for assessing the environmental footprint of products and organisations. The new common standard will be based on life-cycle assessment and will reward the most resource-efficient products and organisations on the European market. The plans are designed to reduce confusion over product labelling among consumers and to reduce the cost to businesses of providing environmental information.


At the moment, companies face having to choose between more than 400 different government and private ecolabel schemes worldwide. According to the latest Eurobarometer survey on green products, 48% of European consumers are confused by the stream of environmental information they receive.


The Commission has published the proposals in a Communication on Building the Single Market for Green Products and a Recommendation on the use of the methods. They aim to bring together comparable and reliable environmental information and build confidence among consumers, businesses, investors and other company stakeholders.


Two methods for measuring life-cycle environmental performance are being put forward – the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and the Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) – both developed by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. The proposals recommend the voluntary adoption of these by Member States, companies, organisations and financial institutions. They also include principles for communicating environmental performance, such as transparency and reliability, and support for greater international cooperation in measurement methods and data availability.


The Commission plans to test the proposals over a three-year period during which stakeholders will be invited to help develop product group and sector-specific rules. The results, together with other actions taken under the Communication and Recommendation, will then be evaluated.  After this, the Commission will decide on further policy applications of the PEF and OEF methods.


Original article


Press release


Single Market for Green Products Initiative website