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IP/10/273

Brussels, 12 March 2010

Sustainable Consumption and Production: Commission launches handbook on how to assess the environmental impact of products

European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik today launched an authoritative guide for policy-makers and business on how to assess the environmental impact of products. The guidance is part of the Commission's drive to promote more sustainable consumption and production patterns and reduce Europe's environmental footprint.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "If Europe is to have a sustainable future, it needs to become more resource-efficient and less polluting. This handbook will provide a much needed reference to support decision-making and ensure better environmental choices when designing goods and services. A scientifically robust and reliable approach is essential to support the requirements of business and policy-makers in a coherent and efficient manner."

The products we buy and use everyday contribute to our comfort and well-being. However, they also contribute to environmental problems such as climate change, air and water pollution and the depletion of natural resources.

Businesses are increasingly turning to Life Cycle Thinking and Life Cycle Assessment to improve the environmental profile of their products and supply chains to gain competitive advantage. Public authorities are also using them to help assess policy options and support measures for promoting greener products such as ecolabels, ecodesign, green public procurement and better waste management.

This approach considers a wide range of impacts throughout the life of a product, starting with the extraction of natural resources, through to manufacture, distribution and use, and ending with re-use, recycling, and the disposal of remaining waste.

The International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook provides detailed guidance on how to conduct a Life Cycle Assessment to quantify the emissions, resources consumed and the pressures on the environment and human health that can be attributed to a product. It has been developed by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in cooperation with the Directorate-General for Environment. The ILCD Handbook is in line with international standards and has been established through a series of extensive public and stakeholder consultations

Life Cycle Thinking and Life Cycle Assessment are already playing a key role in EU policies in areas such as Integrated Product Policy1, the Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy Action Plan2 and waste legislation3 and will continue to be an essential factor in policy-making in the future.

For further details visit: http://lct.jrc.ec.europa.eu

1 :

Integrated Product Policy: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/ipp

2 :

Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy Action Plan: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/eussd/escp_en.htm

3 :

Waste Framework Directive: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/framework/index.htm


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