December 27

Understanding Environmental Product Declarations: A Comprehensive Guide



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Have you ever thought about the carbon footprint, energy use, water use, and other environmental impacts of consumer products? Are you curious about Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and how they can help organizations demonstrate their commitment to sustainability? 

EPDs provide detailed information about a product’s environmental impact, from raw material extraction to end-of-life. EPDs, based on the principles of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), assist businesses in understanding their products’ environmental impacts and identifying improvement opportunities.

In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of creating an EPD and how companies and customers can use EPDs to make more informed and sustainable decisions.

So, what exactly are EPDs, and how can they assist businesses and consumers in making more sustainable decisions? Continue reading to find out.

What is an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)?

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a document that offers comprehensive details regarding a product’s environmental impact throughout its life cycle. EPDs are built on the foundation of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), a procedure that assesses a product’s environmental impacts from the extraction of raw materials to the end-of-life.

EPDs frequently contain data on a product’s energy and resource consumption and its emissions and waste during production, use, and end-of-life. They also mention the product’s potential to be recycled and any steps taken to lessen its environmental impact.

Customers and other stakeholders interested in learning about the environmental impact of the products they buy may find value in EPDs, frequently used to support businesses in demonstrating their commitment to sustainability and transparency. EPDs can be created for industrial goods, consumer products, and building materials.

What are the steps to create an Environmental Product Declaration?

  1. Find the necessary standards: A list of criteria is required for creating an EPD. ISO 14025 was developed by the Internation Organization of Standardization (ISO), providing guidelines for developing and communicating EPDs. ISO 14040 and 14044 provide guidelines for conducting LCAs and lay out the principles and methods for assessing a product’s environmental impact throughout its life cycle. Product Category Rules (PCRs) are detailed guidelines outlining the requirements for developing an EPD for a specific product category. PCRs are typically created by industry organizations, government agencies, or other third parties to summarize the data sources and impact categories that should be considered when making an EPD for a specific product.
  2. Conduct a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): An LCA is required to develop an EPD. An LCA report contains much of the information needed for an EPD. Additionally, the LCA must go through a critical review to be used as a basis for an EPD. Do you want to know more about LCAs? Check our article about the benefits of an LCA here.
  3. Create the EPD document: now that the LCA is finished and critically reviewed, it is time to extract information from the LCA report and compile it into a smaller document called Environmental Product Declaration.
  4. Verify the EPD: a third party must verify the EPD.
  5. Register the EPD: now that the EPD is finished, it is time to register it so it can be published in an EPD library.

Want to Develop An LCA?

Develop your product life cycle assessment and position your brand toward a sustainable future.

Are all EPDs public?

Environmental Product Declarations are not all made available to the general public. For example, some EPDs are created by businesses for internal use only; they are not meant for public circulation.

Other EPDs might be made for specific projects or just for a select group of stakeholders, such as designers or construction companies.

However, many EPDs are accessible to the general public and can be found in databases or websites focusing on EPDs. These databases might be kept up to date by business associations, governmental bodies, or other external groups.

Additionally, some EPDs are posted on the websites of the businesses that create them.

EPDs are often created using defined procedures and rules, which helps to guarantee their comparability and reliability. Customers and other stakeholders interested in learning more about the environmental impacts of the products they purchase can find a plethora of data in publicly available EPDs.

Additionally, they can assist businesses in demonstrating their dedication to sustainability and openness.

Are Environmental Product Declarations mandatory?

In most countries, EPDs are not required by law. They may, however, be mandated by law or regulation in some nations or regions under specific conditions.

For instance, the European Union (EU) has put in place various rules requiring businesses to disclose data on the impact of their products on the environment. One of these laws, the EU Construction Items Regulation (CPR), calls for manufacturers of specific construction products to develop an EPD as proof of compliance.

Similarly, the Swedish Environmental Code mandates that businesses that produce specific building materials have an EPD as proof of compliance.

EPDs may also be helpful as part of the certification process for several sustainability standards, including LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and Cradle to Cradle. Companies seeking certification under specific standards may be asked to create an EPD to demonstrate compliance.

While EPDs are not typically required by law in most countries, they may be mandatory in particular instances or to meet specific sustainability criteria or legislation.

For how long is an Environmental Product Declaration valid?

EPDs usually have a validity period of five years. The nature of the product, the stability of the product’s supply chain, and any modifications to applicable standards or laws can all affect the precise duration of an EPD.

EPDs are based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, which examines a product’s environmental impacts over its life. As a result, the correctness and reliability of the LCA data may affect an EPD’s validity. The EPD may no longer be regarded as valid if the information used to develop it becomes obsolete or no longer accurately depicts the current situation.

Companies must regularly review and update their EPDs to remain accurate and relevant. This process could entail conducting a new LCA or updating the data used in the original LCA to reflect changes in the product or its supply chain.

Want to Develop An LCA?

Develop your product life cycle assessment and position your brand toward a sustainable future.

Here are seven benefits of developing an Environmental Product Declaration:

  1. Improved sustainability and environmental performance: An EPD provides detailed information about a product’s environmental impact from raw material extraction to end-of-life. Companies can identify areas of their operations with a high environmental impact and take measures to reduce those impacts by developing an EPD.
  2. Increased transparency and credibility: By providing detailed, verifiable information about the environmental impact of their products, an EPD can help companies demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and transparency. Additionally, EPDs can aid in the development of trust among customers and other stakeholders.
  3. Improved decision-making: Companies can make more informed decisions about reducing their environmental impacts if they understand the implications associated with their products. Choosing materials with a lower ecological impact, redesigning products to use less energy or water, or finding ways to reduce waste and emissions are examples.
  4. Better marketing and branding: An EPD can help businesses distinguish themselves from their competitors by demonstrating their commitment to sustainability. This effect benefits companies in markets where consumers and buyers are concerned about sustainability.
  5. Compliance with regulations: Many countries and regions have regulations requiring businesses to disclose information about the environmental impact of their products. Companies can demonstrate compliance with these regulations and avoid potential fines or other penalties by developing an EPD.
  6. Compliance with sustainability standards is facilitated: Some sustainability standards, such as LEED or Cradle to Cradle, encourage using EPDs as part of the certification process. Companies can more easily demonstrate compliance with these standards by creating an EPD.
  7. Improved supply chain management: Companies can work with their suppliers to reduce environmental impacts by understanding the effects of their products. Measures to reduce impacts can include collaborating with suppliers who use more sustainable practices and collaborating with suppliers to reduce the environmental results of their operations.

Here are four companies that benefitted from creating Environmental Product Declarations:

Interface: Interface is a global producer of carpet tiles and other flooring products. Many of the company’s products have EPDs, and the information from these EPDs has been used to redesign products to use fewer resources and generate less waste. For example, the company has implemented several initiatives to reduce its products’ environmental impact, such as using recycled materials and making its products recyclable.

Philips: Philips is a global technology company that has developed EPDs for various products, including lighting, healthcare, and consumer electronics. Philips has been able to identify environmental issues by developing EPDs.

Siemens: As a global technology company, Siemens has developed EPDs for many of its products, including turbines, motors, and generators. As part of its commitment to sustainability and transparency, the company has made its EPDs public. As a result, Siemens has been able to demonstrate the environmental performance of its products to its customers and other stakeholders by making its EPDs publicly available. Also, they have a goal of becoming net-zero carbon until 2030.

Herman Miller: Herman Miller is a global furniture manufacturer that has developed EPDs for many products, including office furniture, seating, and tables. As part of its commitment to sustainability and transparency, the company has made its EPDs public.

Want to Develop An LCA?

Develop your product life cycle assessment and position your brand toward a sustainable future.

How much time does it take to create an Environmental Product Declaration?

The difficulty and time required to develop an EPD can vary depending on factors such as the product’s complexity, supply chain, and data availability.

Developing an EPD requires conducting a product Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Typically, this process entails gathering data on the product’s environmental impacts at each stage of its life cycle, including raw material extraction, manufacturing, distribution, use, and disposal.

The LCA process can be time-consuming due to the large amount of data that must be collected and analyzed. The time required to complete an LCA can vary depending on the product’s complexity, data availability, and resources available to conduct the LCA.

After the LCA has been completed, the EPD must be created. Creating an EPD entails organizing and presenting the LCA findings clearly and concisely in compliance with the applicable standards and guidelines. Writing and formatting the EPD and ensuring it meets the required quality standards can be time-consuming.

Overall, creating an EPD can be a difficult and time-consuming process. However, the benefits of developing an EPD, such as improved sustainability performance, increased transparency, and the ability to make more informed, sustainable decisions, can make creating an EPD worthwhile for many businesses.

How can I develop my Environmental Product Declaration with UGREEN?

To create your Environmental Product Declaration with UGREEN, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Contact UGREEN: the first step is to get in touch with UGREEN to discuss your goals and how an EPD can help your brand. You can do this by scheduling a meeting here.
  2. Schedule a meeting with the teams involved: the first step of creating an EPD is conducting a Life Cycle Assessment. Once the LCA project starts, the teams must meet because a variety of confidential information is required for an LCA. So all teams involved can be in line with what is happening, what information they should provide, and how they can help provide other necessary information.
  3. Conducting the LCA: the UGREEN team will ask for, compile and use the information to assess the environmental impacts of the LCA. In addition, a confidential report containing all assumptions and methodologies used in the LCA will be written.
  4. Critical review: in this step, a third party will read the LCA report and check for errors, invalid methodologies, and missing information to maximize the transparency and reliability of the report. Also, the reviewer will check if the LCA complies with the applicable standards. At the end of this step, the information will contain the critical reviewer’s signature to ensure the LCA’s legitimacy.
  5. Creating an EPD: the UGREEN team will extract the needed information from the LCA report to develop an Environmental Product Declaration.
  6. Registering and publishing the EPD: in this step, you will be asked to register your EPD in an EPD library so it can be available for everyone.

Need to develop your Environmental Product Declaration in the Portuguese language. Click here to know more.

Want to Develop An LCA?

Develop your product life cycle assessment and position your brand toward a sustainable future.


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