Development of indicators for an Integrated Product Policy

Christian Poll, Karl Vogt-Nielsen, Frieder Rubik , Michael Søgaard Jørgensen, Mette Lise Jensen

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This study takes its beginning in the search for indicators with relevance to Integrated Product Policy (IPP). IPP has been underway for some time in many European Member States and in various forms. This has provided experience for a common European policy in the field, but so far, no experience can be brought forward on how to monitor the effects of IPP on society. Therefore, the European Commission issued a call for tender in 2003, and this report is the result. The report is structured in the following way:
• Firstly, the literature on relevant methodology for indicators and IPP aspects, plus the literature on indicators with relevance to IPP is described.
• Secondly, the results of this literature survey are discussed.
• Thirdly, the experience is used to develop criteria for selecting product groups, and data collection on some products is tested and described.
• Finally, from the experience so far, a Basket of products, suitable for monitoring the progress of IPP is suggested and discussed.

The results of the literature study are that the field of indicators for IPP has not yet been developed. Much has been developed, however, for sustainable development, and indicators from this field may be relevant to IPP. The DPSIR model1
for indicators may be suitable for an IPP strategy. However there seems to be a missing link in the DPSIR cycle from knowledge about policy effectiveness in its pure form (called policy dissemination) to knowledge about the changes in driving forces (industrial activities) from IPP activities. The P-S-I part of the DPSIR cycle is covered by technical impact assessment methodologies developed over the last decade. The key of the missing link may be found in the field of organisational behaviour or related research areas. This area of knowledge does not seem well enough developed at the moment to deduce quantitative understandings of causality, which can help us in monitoring the progress of IPP.

The results of our research show that eco-labelling criteria from the European, Nordic and German schemes comprise currently the most important sources of information about products’ environmental aspects (hot-spots). There is very
little historical information available, and the little we find indicates that there has been very little change in, which environmental hot-spots are relevant for a product over time. This indicates that selected indicators for a product group
may be fairly robust. Both contacting the industry directly (shampoo manufacturers for example), asking environmental specialists to fill out a short ques-tionnaire, and contacting European trade associations in telephone interviews
did not reveal suitable data for IPP indicators.

When product groups are selected for the purpose of building up a picture of the environmental profile of the market, many aspects are relevant in the selection. Four central criteria have been identified for the selection of product groups:
• Environmental relevance, i.e. environmental impact per unit × market volume
• Potential for improvement, including the environmental span of products on the market
• Steerability
• Availability of data in time series

Further, during the pilot period of an IPP indicator system, it will be very useful to get an idea of a number of technical aspects too:
• Coverage of the product life cycle phases, from raw materials, production and transportation, to use and disposal of the product
• Coverage of the environmental impact categories, like global warming, acidification, toxicity etc.
• Coverage of the stakeholders
• Coverage of the IPP tools
• Coverage of the indicator types

The aspects have been used for the selection of products and data acquisition has been carried out and documented following a uniform format. While eco-label criteria is a unique source for the identification of hot-spots in a product group, then these criteria do not serve any data suitable for monitoring an indicator. The reason for that is that eco-label criteria contain endpoints, which must be met by applicants in order to get the license. Data in the eco-labelling system therefore relate to such values more or less like yes/no, and provide no picture of the variation in the market of the parameters in the criteria documents.

In contrary to this, data from environmental product declarations (EPD) will suit the requirements for monitoring a product indicator. EPDs contain real values for environmental parameters, and if many EPDs are available for a product group, we may get a fair picture of the market by studying them. Unfortunately, today very few declarations are available, so there is no ground for building a first snap-shot of the market 2005 in EPDs.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages330
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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