Monday 7 January 2013

Consumer Product Environmental Footprints

Sylvain Chevassus, Policy Officer on Sustainable Consumption and Production, Ministry for Sustainable Development (France) described how France intends to make sustainable consumption more credible, accessible and visible through the “Grenelle” legislation.  This covers the consumers right to be informed of the environmental impact of a product, and a 1-year experiment using LCA data at the consumer level is underway.  ADEME (Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie) and AFNOR (Association Française de Normalisation) are providing the multi-stakeholder technical platform which reaches agreement with data-holders on the use of the LCAs.  In total 670 organisations and more than 1000 experts are providing the inputs to an environmental impact database which will ultimately be publicly available.
A wide range of companies is taking part in the experiment and of the 230 volunteers, 168 have been selected and these include Nestle, Coca Cola, Pepsico, Colgate Palmolive, P&G, Unilever and J&J.  Product labelling shows CO2 emission equivalent in grams equated to the distance a car can travel with the same level of emissions.  Water consumption is likewise indicated by “seconds in the shower” and the effect on ecosystems is shown by the area of “biodiversité fragilisée” in square meters.

Working Group 4H deals with hygiene products.  For diapers the functional unit is “Nappies per day per child” and the indicators are carbon footprint, depletion of non-renewable resources and waste at end-of-life.  EDANA is collaborating with WG4H to prepare draft Product Category Rules for both disposables and washable nappies.  Extension of the process to include inco and femcare is being considered.

An Environmental Impact Index equating to the daily impact of one EU consumer could become a unit of measure with products labelled with the percentage of this daily impact their use implies.

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