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What is an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)?

In this article, we’ll review what an Environmental Product Declaration is, why it is important, and how your company can acquire its own Environmental Product Declaration.
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It’s evident that amongst the global effort to push for more sustainable products, that it is becoming more difficult to acquire the “seal of approval” on behalf of investors, customers, and stakeholders on your product – but an Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD for short, could help with in this scenario.

An Environmental Product Declaration can help users and potential stakeholders to better understand the product they are investing or purchasing – demonstrating how an Environmental Product Declaration could help to save time when trying to illustrate the environmental impact of your product to key actors.

In this article, we’ll review what an Environmental Product Declaration is, why it is important, and how your company can acquire its own Environmental Product Declaration.

What is an Environmental Product Declaration?

An Environmental Product Declaration, often shortened as EPD, refers to the document which offers an in-depth analysis of a product’s environmental impact throughout its entire life cycle. 

In light of their similarities, an Environmental Product Declaration was developed as a result a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) – which is a process dedicated towards determining the environmental impact of a product from sourcing raw materials to when it is thrown away by the consumer.
understanding EPD

👉 An Environmental Product Declaration is most relevant for customers seeking to better understand the environmental impact of the product they purchased, and for key stakeholders interested in learning more about the product in the event they seek to invest in the product itself.  

Usually, an Environmental Product Declaration delineates data regarding a products:

  • Energy consumption, such as how much power an iPhone uses over the course of its lifespan;
  • Resources used via supply chains or steps taken for ethical sourcing;
  • Overall emissions created in production and use of the product;
  • Waste produced once the consumer discards the product, such as the GHG emissions caused by the product sitting in landfills. 

👉 In addition to this, an Environmental Product Declaration often also includes the potential for a product’s emissions to be reduced on behalf of the user – such as by recycling the product or seeking to charge the battery to optimal levels.

dispenser surrounded by plants

Why is an Environmental Product Declaration important and what are the benefits?

An Environmental Product Declaration is important as it can help companies to mitigate transition risks, practice greater transparency, develop more trusting relationships with their customers and stakeholders, and comply more easily with upcoming environmental regulations. 

The global push for more sustainable businesses has put undeniable pressure on companies around the world to put their best green-foot-forward on at all times – and while this is stressful, an Environmental Product Declaration could help make it easier for companies to cope with all of the unprecedented changes in the market.

Think of someone who travels often: odds are, they never fully unpack their suitcase and keep a running tab of what needs to be taken out or added to their packing list accordingly. This allows someone who travels often to always have a base set-up to prevent needing to pack from scratch every single time. The same goes for companies that acquire an Environmental Product Declaration, as it can provide a starting point for companies required to comply with other regulations or climate disclosures.
magnifying glass looking through packages like an x-ray

Some additional benefits companies may experience when choosing to seek an Environmental Product Declaration Include:

  • Greater Sustainability and Reduced Environmental Impact – As an Environmental Product Declaration depicts a product's impact on the planet in detail, it can encourage companies to make additional changes to further reduce their environmental impact in the future. Think of when you get a good score on a test, and as a reward – you get a piece of chocolate cake. Doesn’t that motivate you to succeed a second time? The same goes for an EPD, as it can challenge companies to set even greater goals towards improved sustainability. 
  • Improved Transparency & Trust – Much of sustainability begins with transparency, and one of the best ways to build these more trusting relationships with your key stakeholders is through voluntary disclosures such as an Environmental Product Declaration. This allows companies to demonstrate their commitment to environmental reform while simultaneously attracting new customers and investors. 
  • More Efficient Sustainable Supply Chain Management –  Oftentimes, an EPD will incentivise companies to further engage with their suppliers to reduce their emissions together and ultimately improve the life-cycle of a product. Therefore, seeking to acquire an Environmental Product Declaration can encourage greater collaboration and the development of new, more sustainable products. 
  • Improved Decision-Making – Taking note of what is currently depicted in your company’s EPD can help improve your decision-making process in the future, as your business will have acquired new knowledge on what is beneficial and what hinders your progress in achieving your environmental goals. This could include making smarter choices regarding energy consumption, water usage, or encouraging employees to take public transit.
  • New & Genuine Ideas for Marketing & Product Branding – Making the effort to acquire an  Environmental Product Declaration can provide new marketing tactics for your company, and will help to prevent accusations against greenwashing. Ultimately, this can allow your company to develop new partnerships and marketing campaigns to further promote and expand your business.
  • Avoid Legal Issues & Easier to Comply with Environmental Regulations – Although an Environmental Product Declaration isn’t a requirement across the world, many regions have already made climate disclosures mandatory – meaning an EPD could serve as viable, supporting documentation for other environmental regulations. As a result, this means that an Environmental Product Declaration can indirectly help companies to avoid legal fines – as an EPD can help to demonstrate compliance.

👉 Overall, an Environmental Product Declaration can help to boost a company’s brand image, improve their supply chain management, and ultimately improve the efficiency and performance of their business.

colorful shampoos on wooden table with pineapple

Is an Environmental Product Declaration required?

Across the majority of the world, an Environmental Product Declaration is not required by law. 

However, this doesn’t mean that singular countries will not strive to make an EPD compulsory in various regions or under specific circumstances – such as an area or region of the world making an extensive effort to reduce its environmental impact.

An example of this is how the EU has decided to put measures in place requiring businesses to publicly disclose information regarding the environmental impact of their products – such as with the Construction Items Regulation (CPR), which requires businesses to draft an Environmental Product Declaration in order to comply.

While an Environmental Product Declaration in most countries, regions such as the European Union have implemented the use of EPDs across the market in order to serve as a form of compliance.

Some examples of this include:

  • European Green Deal
  • EU Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)
  • EU Carbon Border Tax tied to Imports
  • Various Green Building Schemes such as LEED
  • Various Efforts to Manage Supply Chain
  • Various ISO standards such as ISO 14025

👉 Ultimately, an Environmental Product Declaration has proved useful as a way for companies to demonstrate their competence and efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their products – paving a way for them to not only adhere with new environmental regulations, but acquire other sustainability standards as well.

leafy greens, kiwi, apple, banana, botte of water, coffee with green background

What is the difference between a Health Product Declaration (HPD) and an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)?

The difference between a Health Product Declaration (HPD) and an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is that a Health Product Declaration refers to how a product may impact one’s health while an Environmental Product Declaration focuses on the impact a product has on the environment.

A Health Product Declaration (HPD) is primarily focused on evaluating a product for its potential health hazards and impact on someone’s physical shape, while an Environmental Product Declaration is predominantly concerned about the environmental impact a product creates.

Still, there are multiple differences between EPDs and HPDs, such as how: 

  • EPDs focus on the life-cycle and environmental impact of a product whereas HPDs center around a product’s ingredients and how they could impact human health;
  • EPDs are often more complex and time consuming in comparison to HPDs;
  • EPDs must enlist a program operator or third-party for acquisition, whereas a HPD can be self-published almost instantaneously by a company.

👉 Despite their differences, both an Environmental Product Declaration and a Health Product Declaration are beneficial certifications for companies to acquire in order to boost the longevity and safety of their products.

person holding product under leaves

How can you acquire an Environmental Product Declaration?

An Environmental Product Declaration can only be acquired by conducting a relevant Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and afterwards, usually through the assistance of a third-party to develop the EPD in accordance with the results acquired from the LCA. 

It is important to realise that the time and effort necessary to curate a sufficient Environmental Product Declaration will be contingent on the complexity of your product, your current supply chain, and how much data your company currently has available.

👉 Therefore, companies that are already committed to working with a carbon accounting company like Greenly might find it easier to develop an EPD. Although it can prove time consuming and tedious, once approved – an Environmental Product Declaration will remain valid for up to five years.

Developing an Environmental Product Declaration often requires the following:

  1. Conduct a Life Cycle Assessment – This step is imperative to the creation of any EPD, as it cannot be done without first conducting a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on your product. Usually, this requires collecting data on how the materials for the product are sourced, how it is manufactured, and how the product is distributed and disposed of after use. 
  2. Commit to Third-Party Review – Oftentimes, it’s best to resort to the use of a third party to verify your LCA and ensure no crucial information is missing before proceeding to develop your Environmental Product Declaration. This often requires a signature from your third-party to legitimise your Life-Cycle Analysis.
  3. Create an EPD – Afterwards, your team of choice can use your LCA to develop an Environmental Product Declaration.
  4. Register & Publish the EPD – Once your Environmental Product Declaration is complete, you can register your EPD so that it can be made available for public display for anyone interested – such as customers and potential investors.

All in all, an Environmental Product Declaration is a great way to practice greater transparency and show the world your efforts to reduce your environmental impact. The process may seem overwhelming, but we promise – with the help of Greenly, we can make acquiring your Environmental Product Declaration and plenty of other certifications seem like a piece of cake.

What about Greenly? 

If reading this article about the Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD, has made you interested in reducing your carbon emissions to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Seeking to understand how an Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD, could have an impact on your business can prove difficult to understand, but don’t worry – Greenly is here to help! Click here to book a demo and get personalised expertise on how you can start to reduce your own emissions and decrease your environmental impact.

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

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