In more detail, the PEF analyses the environmental aspects and potential impacts throughout a product’s life cycle (from the cradle to the grave).
The cycle is analysed by tracing the product-related impacts in every phase of its “useful life” – from the acquiring of the primary raw materials to processing, from its distribution to end-consumer consumption, as well as its waste disposal, including at each phase the environmental impact from transportation.
The PEF follows the principles of the LCA analysis and the ILDC methodology, but has also developed some specific principles that render it a highly innovative tool.
These principles can be summed up in the following two points:
1. A specific European legislation exists setting out the methodological rules – Recommendation 2013/179/CE.
2. he PEF aims to provide a tool to measure the environmental performance appropriate for all companies and, thus, the PEFCR (Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules) put in place, and the guidelines approved by the European Commission which allow for:
- implementing a PEF in the companies of the sector where the PEFCR is defined more easily and with much lower costs;
- introducing a sector benchmark, i.e. the average environmental impacts of the sector, allowing the companies to assess their environmental performance and highlight the advantages of possible actions for improvement.
The PEFCR currently available can be found on the European Commission website at the link: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/eussd/smgp/ef_pilots.htm, while the rules to create a PEFCR are set by the PEFCR Guidance, the latest version downloadable at the following link: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/eussd/smgp/pdf/PEFCR_guidance_v6.3.pdf.
The LIFE CO2PEF&PES Project will include preliminary analyses for some wood sector products and a PEFCR will be proposed to serve as a basis for a European wide development of these products.
Firstly, an identification and definition of the system-product and the modelling of the relevant scenarios for the wood-related product supply chain will be carried out.
This will be followed by a precise individuation of the functional units (product or average representative products) to develop the methodology and establish the parameters of the life cycle.
These activities will lead to setting a PEF conducted in line with the indications and the methodological guidelines provided by the DG Environment methodology (Rec. 2013/179/CE and successive updates, such as the PEF Guidance 6.3), as well as the recent brand of Made Green in Italy.
Then, a “screening” study will be implemented on at least three of the functional units relevant to wood products, with the following steps:
- setting of the “system parameters” for the functional unit and the production phases and overall consumption;
- compilation of an inventory of the input and output elements of the supply chain (Emissions and Resource Use Profile – Life Cycle Inventory);
- definition of the main impact categories and the assessment of potential environmental impacts for each phase of the productive process (hot spot analysis);
- interpretation of the results concerning the analysis phases of the inventory and the estimation of the impacts related to the study objectives.
At the end of the study, an initial PEFCR draft will be drawn up, which will be applied to the PEF for three pilot companies to check if it captures all the average aspects of the sector or if there are elements that must be corrected and integrated. After carrying out the three PEFs, an eventual revision of the PEFCR will follow.