To become “environmentally-friendly” or obtain “eco-labels”, products and services can use a variety of voluntary methods to stand out within their product category or sector. In the European Union (EU) alone, there are over 230 eco-labels which, among other things, address issues such as deforestation, biodiversity, toxicity, circularity, resource efficiency and carbon emissions.
But for companies trying to market their products as environmentally friendly, striking the right balance between market opportunities and market challenges can be difficult. The wide variety of “ecolabels” – each with its own methodological requirements, may result in additional costs or delays for the companies, and in confusion for the consumers.
To address these issues, enhance comparability within a product category, and give clear indicators to producers and consumers alike, the European Commission introduced under the 2013 Single Market for Green Products (SMGP) initiative, the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF).
The PEF method helps companies measure their environmental performance and position themselves with confidence on the market of sustainable products. Other related EU initiatives include the “Green Deal” and the 2020 “Circular Economy Action Plan“, which, together with the PEF, establish a strong and coherent product policy framework that will make sustainable products, services and business models the norm rather than the exception.