Environmental Product Declaration

 

What is an EPD?

An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a documentation of a product’s environmental impacts throughout its life cycle, from raw material extraction to production, distribution, use, and disposal.

To ensure consistency and reliability, a set of Product Category Rules (PCR) is used, which establish standards for the collection and reporting of environmental data.

In Europe, EPDs are usually in accordance with the standard EN 15804, which is based on the internationally recognized ISO 14025. This ensures that the information is presented uniformly with the same environmental indicators and reporting practices.

An essential part of the EPD process is third-party verification, where an independent expert familiar with the Product Category Rules reviews and approves the EPD. This ensures that the declaration is objective, accurate, and credible.

Why is third-party verification important?

To ensure that Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are impartial, standardized, and contain comparable information, third-party verification is crucial. This constitutes the core of the international standard defining EPDs, ISO 14025. Without third-party verification, an EPD will not be recognized or able to be published.

 

What types of EPDs are there?

There are 3 types of Environmental Product Declarations:

 

Type Standard Verification Description Example
I ISO 14024 Mandatory Thresholds must be met to qualify for a given eco-label. Ecolabels
II ISO 14021 Not required Self-declared declaration The declared environmental impacts are the responsibility of the manufacturer. Product Environmental footprint (PEF)
III ISO 14025 & EN 15804 Mandatory Product-specific or industry-average environmental impacts derived from a life cycle analysis. EPD

In a simplified manner, EPDs can be divided into the following types
(The list is not exhaustive):

Cradle-to-gate

Includes environmental impacts for the manufacturing process, meaning information for the product from raw material extraction, processing, and to the end of the manufacturing process.

Cradle-to-gate with options

Includes the same environmental impacts as Cradle-to-Gate plus other optional information about the installation phase (e.g., construction), information about the demolition and disposal phase, and any recycling opportunities.

Cradle-to-grave

The last type provides information on the environmental impacts for the product’s entire lifecycle, including the installation phase, maintenance, replacement, demolition and disposal phase, and any recycling opportunities.
Finally, there are also group EPDs, where multiple products are grouped into one. For example, products that come in different sizes and colors but serve the same purpose. Often, there can be economic benefits to grouping multiple products into group EPDs, but one must investigate whether it can be justified professionally.

Is a product with an EPD a sustainable product?

An Environmental Product Declaration documents a product’s environmental impact and helps assess its overall environmental burden. It takes into account all components, including materials, packaging, and semi-finished products. Environmental Product Declarations apply not only to products with low environmental impact but also to those with higher impact. The purpose is to provide insight into environmental consequences and enable comparison in a standardized manner. This promotes awareness of environmental aspects and contributes to the selection of more sustainable products.

Who needs EPDs and why?

EPDs are important for producers, architects, contractors, and consumers. They are used to communicate products’ environmental impact and make sustainable choices

 

4433How is an EPD prepared?

When it is being crafted, it is through a specialized process that can be divided into four steps:

1. Definition of product and data collection: The first step is to define the function of the product and collect data on the quantity of materials, energy, waste, and other elements involved in the product’s manufacture. This also includes identifying the functions of packaging, as different packaging solutions may be made from different materials, resulting in separate EPDs.

2. Calculation of environmental impacts and preparation of LCA report: An EPD practitioner uses the collected data to calculate the environmental impacts of the product and document them in a life cycle assessment (LCA) report. This report forms the basis for the subsequent verification process.

3. Third-party verification of results: An independent third party, approved by the EPD issuer, performs the verification of the calculated results.” The EPD practitioner must respond to any additional questions and provide supplementary documentation and calculations during this phase. Once the verification is completed, the approved material is sent to the publisher.

4. Publication and marketing: The EPD publisher receives the verified material and publishes it in an accessible database. Once the EPD is published, it can be used as documentation for the product’s environmental impacts as well as for differentiation from competing products in the market.

Who publishes EPDs?

Many publish environmental product declarations, and most European countries have their own publishers. It’s not always necessary to publish an EPD in every country, as most publishers recognize each other’s declarations, but it’s always a good idea to double-check this! When an EPD is published, an annual maintenance fee is required. EPDs are valid for 5 years, and they can be updated if changes occur to ensure the information remains reliable.

What does it cost to get an EPD made?

EPD expenses vary depending on the complexity of the product, manufacturing process, and type. The price can range from approximately 70,000 DKK to several hundred thousand DKK. Additionally, there are costs associated with verification and publication.