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Are construction materials in Sweden traceable?

Journalists Åfreds, Nilsson and Bennewitz showcase that it is often impossible to gather information pertaining to commonly used construction materials. This covers information on material origins and content, working conditions in the manufacturing process, socio-environmental impacts and so on.

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Game over for ESG reporting in Excel?

With the increasing number of sustainability-related directives and (mandatory) frameworks to comply with, the field of reporting is gradually changing as well. Traditional sustainability reporting has largely consisted of Excel spreadsheets managed by a small number of employees at individual companies. Emission factors were often hard to obtain, reporting took a lot of manual effort, and data was largely static with few means of checking it for consistency. Due to a lack of harmonization in reporting requirements on an international level, the comparability of reports across companies was limited. Currently, with the emergence of highly complex reporting frameworks such as the CSRD, Excel seems to no longer be fit for ensuring compliance. This is primarily due to a lack of digital data tagging (a key requirement of the CSRD is to use the European Single Electronic Format – ESEF for presentation of reports), which is important considering the sheer volume of data to report on. Additionally, mandatory external auditing, dynamic data management, and global comparability of sustainability reports require systems that are more comprehensive and streamlined, and enable automation and sharing of data among many stakeholders. The notable growth of ESG software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies reflects the market needs for such

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Product Category Rules

The interest for Environmental Product Declarations continues to grow, however, it can happen that companies offer products for which EPD does not yet exist.

In this case, new Product Category Rules (PCR) need to be developed. 📗

PCR refer to a set of rules according to which EPDs are made. Each program operator is responsible for overseeing the development of PCRs and ensuring that they meet the requirements of the relevant standards and their own General Program Instructions.

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Several products can be covered by a single EPD!

Inclusion of multiple products into a single EPD

Several products can be covered by a single EPD!  

The programme operator’s GPI (General Programme Instructions) and individual PCRs (Product Category Rules) outline in which situations multiple products can be grouped and published as a single Environmental Product Declaration.

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EU Green Claims Directive

Are your products marketed as ‘eco-friendly,’ ‘natural,’ ‘recycled,’ ‘biodegradable’ and so on? 🐅♻️🗑️🌿 

Can you substantiate these labels?  

The 2020 European Commission study found that over 53 % of environmental claims in the EU are vague, misleading, or unfounded. Additionally, 40 % of these claims were found to be unsubstantiated. 🚨 

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CSRD Double Materiality

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (#CSRD) encompasses a wide range of disclosure requirements. As first reports will be due in 2025 for financial year 2024, let us have a look at a key concept underpinning the legislation! 🚦 📍#DoubleMateriality is a concept central to the CSRD and the introduced binding reporting standards, the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS). It refers to the notion that the company activities affect the social and environmental matters, but these sustainability matters in turn also affect the company. Thus, the double materiality is split into impact materiality and financial materiality. #ImpactMateriality concerns activities which generate short or long-term, positive or negative, and active or potential impacts on the environment 🌱 and people. This is clearly connected to the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) framework of classifying sustainability issues, as seen also in the CSRD with the proposed topical standards (the defined areas of sustainability). For example, calculating the environmental footprint of your organisation with respect to greenhouse gas emissions would fall under impact materiality. #FinancialMateriality focuses on the risks and opportunities created by sustainability issues. For example, if climate change is expected to result in diminishing stocks crucial to your supply chain, or if violations

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Variability in EPD results across programme operators

💭 Recently, an interesting article on variation and comparability of environmental product declarations (#EPD) was published in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment by Konradsen et al., 2023.   In the article, the authors analysed how methodological choices based on guidelines such as the General Programme Instructions and Product Category Rules (which are independently issued by the programme operators) can result in variable results for environmental impact categories considered.   Taking a fictional example of a window 🪟, they performed an LCA based on PCRs of four different EPD programme operators – and the results they got differed, pointing to a lack of harmonisation in the EPD system. Since ultimately, the aim of the EPD system is to create a database of comparable products to inform decision making, for example when choosing suppliers for a construction project, doubts in the credibility and comparability of the EPD ecolabel can undermine the industry’s efforts to communicate sustainability efforts and compliance.    What does that mean for us as LCA practitioners and EPD specialists? We have received similar questions from our clients before and something we feel very passionate about is helping them understand and interpret what hides behind complex methodologies used to create an

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Introduction to CSRD

CS…SRD… CSR-what? You have probably heard of this acronym within the last two years, especially if you work in accounting, sustainability, or management positions. The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) refers to the EU legislation which was first proposed in 2021 and entered into force in January 2023. It is no longer sufficient to assess the companies’ performance based solely on the financial information – environmental and social impacts are of great importance as well due to concerns for climate change and fair labour practices . The CSRD aims to strengthen the sustainability (social and environmental) reporting, which will increase the availability of sustainability data on par with financial information. Improvements in the transparency of companies’ sustainability performance are seen as greatly demanded by investors, consumers, and other stakeholders, and pursuing a common framework enables comparison.   Furthermore, the CSRD is a regulatory driver for a transition to a sustainable economy, which encourages circular and low carbon business practices through the double materiality principle, which we will cover in our  next post .   Who does the CSRD apply to? The first CSRD reports will be required in 2025 (for financial year 2024) for large undertakings already subject to the Non-Financial Reporting

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Ready for some more information on LCA? 

The LCA methodology is fundamentally based on very simple premises – materials and processes generate #EnvironmentalImpacts and depending on the quantity of our inputs, the environmental impacts are multiplied accordingly. Say, if production 🏭 of 1 kg of glass generates 1.25 kgCO2eq 💨, this emission factor can be applied to a desired quantity of glass included in our product or project.   However, things get complicated both due to the sheer volume of materials and processes used in the industry and the extensive array of environmental impacts that need to be considered ⚖️. Since many of these impacts are displaced in terms of place and time and thus expressed as potential or projected impacts, they often cannot be measured directly or efficiently. Additionally, we also want life cycle assessments to be as streamlined as possible to enable quick quantification of environmental impacts, which means that certain approximations need to be made.    🗝️ This is where the life cycle inventory databases come into play. When raw primary data of the environmental footprint of activities is unavailable, databases such as EcoInvent, GaBi, PEF, NMD, ÖKOBAUDAT and other are used. They contain scientific datapoints on energy requirements, material inputs, waste outputs and emissions generated of many conventional processes.

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So, you want to do a life cycle assessment – what now?

Maybe you have already figured out what an #LCA is, maybe you know the required scope of your analysis, or maybe you have even started collecting data needed for the modeling.     ❓But what about the right choice of LCA software❓ Many kinds of software tools available on the market can organize, streamline, quantify, visualize, and sometimes even automate the assessment of environmental impacts associated with your product, service, building project, and so on.     If you are a company in need of LCA documentation and have limited in-house expertise, you can outsource the whole task to LCA experts who will quickly determine which tool is the best for the purpose and usually also have access to it. However, some companies prefer to buy their own software license to facilitate engagement with sustainability compliance and have greater insight and flexibility when performing LCAs.     Currently, six of the most widely used LCA software tools are SimaPro,Sphera (previously GaBi), One Click LCA , openLCA, Ecochain Technologies Mobius, and Umberto iPoint-systems gmbh, though you can explore more options through LCA Software.org. 🧑‍💻👩‍💻     ❓What is the difference between these tools❓ LCA tools are tailored to different purposes and require varying levels of expertise in LCA. Of course, they are also priced differently. For example, OpenLCA is free to use, though some databases that

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Are you developing a new product and need an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)?

Previous Next An EPD describes the product’s environmental impact in a transparent and comparable manner and is based on life cycle assessment (LCA). Depending on what the product is, product category rules (PCR) define what needs to be included in the declaration.  For example, an EPD for construction products needs to include 19 different environmental impact categories across the product’s production, manufacturing and end of life stages (or more!), which helps companies identify potential environmental issues along the value chain and encourages them to implement more circular designs for improved environmental performance.  Generally, creating an EPD requires the following stages: product scoping, data collection, LCA modelling, results interpretation and writing of the report, EPD verification and finally, publishing 🏁.  An EPD needs to be verified by an independent third party and then published through a program operator, such as EPD International, IBU, PEP Ecopassport, Programme INIES, EPD Norge etc. An EPD’s validity is usually for five years. Altogether, this gives you a trustworthy assessment of your product’s environmental impacts and helps demonstrate your sustainability efforts to your customers. And the best part? As EPD International AB registered LCA consultants we can guide you through the process and help you create an EPD

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