EU Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and Organization Environmental Footprint (OEF)

Building the Single Market for Green Products: Facilitating better information on the environmental performance of products and organizations. The European Commission has proposed a harmonized European methodology of quantifying the environemntal impacts of products (both goods and services).

The Environmental Footprint methods measure and communicate about the environmental performance of products (both goods and services) and organisations across their whole lifecycle, relying on scientifically sound assessment methods agreed at international level. They cover 16 environmental impacts, including climate change, and impacts related to water, air, resources, land use and toxicity. The general methods are complemented with product- or organisation- specific calculation rules enabling comparison of environmental performances between similar products and companies active in similar sectors.

The Product Environemtnal Footprint (PEF) provide detailed requirements for modelling the environmental impacts of the materials and energy flows and the emissions and waste streams associated with a product thoughout its life cycle.
This new and improved common framework outlines how companies should measure the environmnetal performance of any product, taking into account all upstream and downstream supply chain activities*. By assessing the environmental impacts of products consistently, the methodology ensures a comparable life cycle assessment (LCA).

*Upstream - all activiteits related to the organization's (raw material) suppliers. Downstream - post-manufacturing activities, distributing the product to the final customer.

The PEF mission is to strengthen the single (European) market for green alternatives, ensure that environmental impacts are transparently assessed and enable to reduce environmental impacts.
PEF takes a life cycle perspective but follows further product-specific requirements and standardized specifications that create greater comparability of results.

PEF Roadmap
In December 2021 the European Commission adopted a revised Recommendation on the use of Environemtnal Footprint methods, helping companies to calculatie their environmental performance based on realiable, verifiable and comparable information.

Transition Phase
In the period between the end of the Environmental Footprint pilot phase and the possible adoption of the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), a transition phase is established. This transition phase is planned to be completed by end 2024.
As the PEF methodology is still in progress, the PEF is not mandatory yet.

Complementing the PEF is the Product Envioronemtnal Footprint Category Rules (PEFC). The PEFC proivdes detailed rules and guidelins for specific product categories, to measure and communicate the environmental performance of a product throughouts its life cycle. The guidelines ensure that the PEF is applied uniformly across industries, ensuring fair and accurate comparisons.

PEF is for calculating the environmental performance of an individual product (both goods and services), thus it disaggregates environmental performance information to represent a single product. Organizational Environmental Footprint (OEF) is for calculating the environmental performance of a well-defined product portfolio. OEF can be calculated using aggregated data.

What is weighting? Why is it needed?
Weighting is an (optional) impact assessment step for better understanding the results and compare the different impact categories of an environmental footprint study. Weighting factors reflect the perceived relative importance of the environmental footprint impact categories considered. Weighted results for impact categories can then be compared to assess their relative importance (e.g. climate change more relevant than toxicity). Results can also be aggregated across environmental footprint impact categories to obtain several aggregated values or a single overall impact indicator. This is more a political than a technical decision to make.

Link to European Commission Product Environmental Footprint website