Just The Facts Guide

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The Just The Facts Guide in a new format. Learn about how to fight greenwash with a non labels, straight approach based on pure facts.

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Just The Facts Guide

  1. 1. 1 How to choose the most sustainable products and what to ask the manufacturers
  2. 2. 2 3 Just the facts guide Contents 04 05 06 08 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 26 28 30 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 42
  3. 3. 4 5 Just the facts guide Understand the product life-cycle To understand which product has the lowest environmental impact, you have to assess the impacts at each stage, from beginning to end of the life-cycle. RAW materials Manufacturing Transportation Packaging Customer use End of life Ramon Arratia Sustainability Director EMEAI, InterfaceFLOR * EPD = Environmental Product Declaration (see page 26)
  4. 4. 6 7 Just the facts guide Understanding product environmental performance “Companies are waking Environmental impacts occur up to the full range of at each stage of a product A typical manufactured impacts in the life-cycle life-cycle The accepted method product contains a number of for life-cycle assessment (LCA) of their products. They components. Each component is defined by the International may start with carbon “Twenty years ago we may contain several materials. Standards Organisation but we are seeing greater developed the first models (ISO14040 and ISO14044). Most products are awareness of water for life-cycle assessment manufactured by a chain footprinting and other An LCA calculates the (LCA). The methodology, of suppliers, processing impacts as well.” environmental footprint at each data and tools are now so the material or assembling stage of manufacture, use operational that an LCA components prior to their final and disposal. It assesses all can be created quite easily delivery to the customer. If the significant environmental for almost any product in you imagine the roots of a tree impacts associated with the the market. Once you know feeding towards the trunk, you product, including the impact have a visual impression of a the substances, chemicals on water, air, land and climate typical manufacturing supply Simon Aumonier and raw materials of a change. chain. Partner, Product product, you can map its full Many products have impacts Stewardship, ERM environmental impacts.” Environmental impacts occur in use and almost all do during at each stage of the supply disposal. To understand chain from the extraction or which product has the lowest growing of the raw material, environmental impact, you throughout its processing and have to assess the impacts at manufacture; transporting each stage, from beginning to components between end of the life-cycle. Henrik Wenzel processing stages, and Professor, Environmental the finished product to the Basing a judgement solely on Engineering Developer of EDIP consumer or final user, also one part of the life-cycle can be methodology used in leading has environmental impacts. misleading. LCA software worldwide
  5. 5. 8 9 Just the facts guide Categories of environmental impact used in LCA Icon Name Description Units of measurement Embodied energy – not renewable Energy from fossil fuels MJ Embodied energy – renewable Energy from renewable sources MJ Greenhouse potential Emissions that contribute to climate change kg CO2 equivalent Acidification potential Emissions that damage vegetation, buildings, kg SO2 equivalent aquatic life, and human health Ozone depletion potential Emissions that cause thinning of the earth’s kg R11 equivalent stratospheric ozone layer adversely affecting human health, natural resources and the environment Eutrophication potential Emissions that increase the nutrients in water or kg phosphate equivalent soil affecting the natural biological balance Photochemical ozone creation potential Emissions of chemicals that cause smog, kg ethene potential adversely affecting human health, ecosystems and crops Human toxicity potential Emissions of materials toxic to humans, animals kg DCB equivalent or plants
  6. 6. 10 11 Just the facts guide Typical LCA Impact Profiles “LCA provides the best Typical LCA of a simple physical product that does not consume energy in use framework currently (e.g. glass, tomato, cement) available for assessing the potential environmental impacts of products.” Different products have different impact profiles. For example, for physical products such as a pencil or a carpet tile, the main impacts occur in the European Commission supply chain from extraction and Communication on processing of raw materials. Integrated Product Policy – Raw materials Manufacturing Transportation Customer use End of life For machines that consume COM (2003)302 energy, however, such as a car Typical LCA of a machine product that consumes energy in use or a washing machine, the major (e.g. vacuum cleaner, car, boiler) impacts usually occur when the product is in use. The LCA of a washing machine shows that our main concern when purchasing a washing machine should be the energy and water efficiency achieved by the machine in use. Features such as cold wash and load sensing are designed to improve efficiency and benefit the Raw materials Manufacturing Transportation Customer use End of life environment.
  7. 7. 12 13 Just the facts guide LCA of a carpet tile 68% 45% Yarn InterfaceFLOR conducts Of all the raw materials we use, Yarn has 4 times more LCAs on our whole range of it is the nylon yarn that has the impact than the backing carpet tile products. We use greatest impact LCAs to identify the parts of our process and supply Conducting LCAs showed us that chain that cause the biggest the critical question for carpet environmental impacts. We manufacturers is how to reduce then research and innovate the environmental impact of the to find alternative materials yarn. and processes toreduce 11% Backing compound The reason yarn has such a these impacts high impact is because the The graph shows the LCA production of nylon requires 6% Glass fleece and turfing carrier results for our standard carpet energy-intensive chemical 4% Precoat bonding layer tile made with 700g of virgin reactions to transform raw 9% 8% 8% 7% 1% Packaging/1% Raw materials nylon yarn. This illustrates that materials derived from oil into most of the impact across yarn. Manufacturing Transportation Raw materials the whole product life-cycle is Customer use The calculations are based on a connected to the production 700g carpet tile made with PA6.6 and End of life of the raw materials we use to InterfaceFLOR’s Graphlex® backing with the following assumptions: make carpet. landfilling at end-of-life, no green energy use in the life-cycle, and a product lifetime (use) of 10 years.
  8. 8. 14 15 Just the facts guide How LCA can be used to re-design products: example of a carpet tile There are three ways to decrease the impact of a carpet tile: The 3 main ways to reduce the Examples of possible sustainable design actions 1. Use less yarn per square impact of a carpet tile are: metre 2. Use recycled yarn which is less energy-intensive than virgin yarn 1 Reduce A carpet tile with 50% less yarn 3. Find low-impact natural alternatives to nylon yarn with The amount of yarn similar quality and durability performance. If you are concerned about choosing the most sustainable 2 carpet tile, the most important Increase A carpet tile with 100% recycled content thing to ask about is the type Yarn recycled content of yarn used, the weight of yarn per square metre and the percentage of recycled content (if any). 3 Create A carpet tile with a low carbon yarn, e.g. bio-based A smarter yarn
  9. 9. 16 17 Just the facts guide Why embodied energy is important “The key aim of Life Cycle “Each European has a Thinking is to avoid ‘burden footprint equivalent to 125 shifting’. This means kWh of primary energy minimising impacts at one per day. But these official Architects and engineers are stage of the life cycle, or figures don’t include the increasingly accustomed to in a geographic region, embedded energy from designing energy-efficient buildings. But rarely is or in a particular impact the imported stuff, i.e. the consideration given to the category, while helping to products we consume energy used to manufacture avoid increases elsewhere. in Europe but are made the raw materials that go into For example, saving elsewhere. This is at least the building. energy during the use another 40 kWh per phase of a product, while person per day.” According to The Concrete not increasing the amount Centre it takes between six David J MacKay of material needed to and eleven years for the Author of Sustainable operational CO2 savings provide it.” Energy – without the hot air achieved by using concrete in a building to exceed the CO2 emissions from producing concrete and aggregate materials. European Joint That’s why it matters what Research Centre you put into your building, not Life Cycle Thinking just how energy-efficient it is and Assessment in use. Understanding the LCA for these materials will help you choose those with the lowest embedded energy.
  10. 10. 18 19 Just the facts guide Which one do you choose? Public concern about the environment is leading to a wave of green claims in marketing. Some are clear and accurate, but others are designed to give a good impression of the product without explaining the environmental benefit adequately.
  11. 11. 20 21 Just the facts guide Beware of green claims Conventional marketing is about strong, simple Some typical green claims seen in the building sector claims like ‘cheapest’, ‘fastest’ and ‘biggest’. So which one would That’s why it is very you choose? 100% natural tempting for marketers Imagine you want to buy a to come up with single T-shirt based on the best Free from X, Y or Z benefit claims about environmental performance. a product and the Three ‘green’ brands all make environment. different claims: 100% recyclable 1 100% organic cotton 2 100% natural dyes 100% recycled 3 Carbon neutral Carbon neutral The only way to know which T-shirt is the best is to look at Sustainably produced the LCA results where all these factors can be measured up and compared. The best T-shirt Produced locally may well be one that doesn’t make any ‘100%’ claims, but is carefully sourced, Non-toxic manufactured and shipped to minimise its environmental All these claims might be technically correct but their narrow scope makes them mislead in the bigger picture. footprint at all stages of its life. See the greenwash glossary on the next page for examples of claims that may not be all that they seem.
  12. 12. 22 23 Just the facts guide Greenwash glossary Public concern about the permanent, not subject to “Advertisers have every environment is leading to double-counting, and retired in right to promote their a wave of green claims in a public registry. Not everybody green credentials and marketing. Some are clear does so… many have been quick to and accurate, but others reassure consumers about are designed to give a Carbon neutral the efforts they are making good impression of the Offsetting precisely as much to be greener. However the product without explaining carbon as you emit. The scope ASA needs to see robust the environmental benefit of operations covered by the adequately. In the UK, for evidence to back up any claim is a critical factor – is example, the Advertising eco-friendly claims. We the whole life-cycle of the Standards Authority has product covered or just its will continue to ensure that reported a rise in complaints manufacture? the public are not misled about ‘greenwash’ and and that advertisers are published guidelines for Carbon negative operating in a climate making green claims. Offsetting more carbon than of truth.” you emit. Sounds saintly but owes more to marketing than Christopher Graham Here are some common science. Director General, claims to watch out for: UK Advertising Climate change impact Low carbon Standards Authority claims Carbon offset Meaningless without numbers. Paying others to balance How low is low? your net carbon emissions. Meaningless unless carbon credits are validated and verified to ensure they are real, additional, measurable,
  13. 13. 24 25 Just the facts guide Greenwash glossary General environmental Non-toxic Recycled content claims Environmentally or As for ‘free from’ above. Industrial manufacturing waste eco-friendly / Kind to the Only meaningful if a toxic is routinely swept up and environment / In tune with substance, such as lead, recycled in many industries. nature, etc has been eliminated from the For example, printers often General and vague statements product. put paper trimmings straight that mean nothing specific are back into the pulping process. Produced locally / Made Natural Recycling claims Much more significant is the almost all misleading without in [country X] Gives a nice warm feeling Recyclable use of post-consumer waste in explanation attached. You may see flowers but you should This is supposed to suggest inside? Just because One of the most misused products because this avoids smell a rat. support for the local economy something’s natural doesn’t terms. Many materials disposal to landfill. and low transport impact. It necessarily mean it’s more are technically able to be Free from X, Y or Z Post-consumer recycled often just means ‘repackaged sustainable. It may seem recycled but it is not always counterintuitive, but some content Only valid when the product nearby’. economically viable to do so. concerned would be expected natural products actually Will the material actually be Should refer only to material to contain material X, Y have a higher environmental recycled? Other grey areas previously used by consumers or Z and that material is impact than their synthetic include: and recovered after use. environmentally harmful. In counterparts. Oil is natural, • ‘down-cycling’ where the some cases ‘X’ is replaced by a earthquakes too. second use is of lower value – different material which causes glass, for example, isusually Award claims other environmental problems, ‘recycled’ into aggregate for such as paperfree tissues The desperate flag-waving of roads, not new glass made from cotton (which has companies. Laugh or cry. its own environmental impact). • energy from waste is Free from A is usually pushed sometimes described as by the manufacturers of B ‘recycling’ but in fact means (and the other way around…) burning the waste to recover some of the energy.
  14. 14. 26 27 Just the facts guide Cut the fluff and send me your EPD. Beyond complicated supplier questionnaires Of course you cannot possibly Objectivity and comparability conduct an LCA on every are the main purpose of purchase you are considering. the Environmental Product But it is entirely reasonable Declaration (EPD). An EPD to ask the manufacturer to includes an LCA conducted by supply LCA information about an independent third party to a their products, especially when standardised methodology. An planning a major purchase EPD also includes additional “As architects, we can decision. If they are unable information about the product design very energy-efficient or unwilling to do this, it including its ingredients. EPDs buildings. The problem suggests a lack of attention to are the most reliable way of environmental factors in their comparing products – ask we face is being able to design process. manufacturers of products you select the most appropriate are interested in if they have materials from a whole life LCA should ideally be an EPD. perspective. Getting clear conducted by an independent and consistent LCAs for a third party because there is too range of materials such as much scope for manufacturers concrete structures, to favour their own products. ceilings and floor finishes, LCA involves a number of assumptions, such as the furniture and fittings is now useful life of a product, that essential.” influence the results if not approached objectively. To be comparable LCAs needto be conducted by an independent organisation using a common methodology. Colin Campbell Director, Capita Architecture
  15. 15. 28 29 Just the facts guide EPDs: Example of how it works in the European construction sector “Environmental Product compliant with the relevant and compliant EPDs will Declarations (EPDs) are ISO Standards (ISO 14025 have a common structure Criteria issued by a Programme and ISO 21930). This has led and format. The TC350 Operator, following rules to considerable confusion standards will also cover known as Product Category in the market. A new suite the use of EPDs at the Rules (PCR). The PCRs of European Standards, building level, encouraging Textile Laminate TextResilient Text ile ile PCR - Floor Coverings PCR - T eL a x t im i n PCR - Environmental Product Declaration Te La xti mina Floor PC le ate Pro FloorP le te Product Category Rules Pro duc CoR according to ISO 14025 duc CR Cove e g o P r o verin Res t Ca t r y R u - F gs Res ilien t Ca tegPr y d R - F gs o ro rin ilien u c t s lo u u l e s lo d t t le Ca or C La mi ct Ca or C La mi Environmental Product Declarations te go ove na te te go ove na te ry ring Microtuft modular carpet ry ring ensure that products are Ru Ru s Environ s developed by CEN TC350, the consideration of le le Harmonised Rules forEnviron s R es men s Re mental ili Scandinavian Collection - Straightforward tal Pro sili Pro en duct Dec en Textile, Laminate and Resilient Envir duct Declara t contains pre-consumer recycled material (pile and backing) Envir laration t Floor Coverings on tions Harmon onm s Harmo men ised Rul enta nised l ta LCA -calculation and support: Textile, l Pres for Textile, Pr es Rulod Gemeinschaft umweltfreundlicher Teppichboden e.V. Laminat oduc Laminat for uct e and Decla Res t De e andHa Floo Ha ilien cla Floor Resilient Text rm ile, Cov onise ratio Text r Cov rmon t erings ratio assessed in a robust and ns ile, ns will now ensure compliant embodied impacts ise Lam erings d Ru Lam d Ru Product Category Rules accepted by the Advisory Board Prod inat les Produc t Catego Prod inat les Produc t Catego uct Cate e an for Declaration number EPD-IFF-2010111-E ry Rules uct accept Cate e an for ry Rules Inst accepted gory Floo d Re Institut www.ba Bauen und Institut ed by gory the RuleAdvisory Floo d Re r Co silie r Co silie Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V Rule Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V. s acce Board www.bau-umwelt.com Institu www itut Bau by the s acce u-umwe www Umwel verin nt lt.com .bauBauen verin nt Adviso pted www.b t Bauen und .bau en ry Board www.bau-umwelt.com t e.V pted au-umw Umwe -um und by -um und by lt e.V welt.com the welt gs the elt.com Umw elt e.V Adv isor .com Umw elt e.V Adv isor gs y Boa y Boa rd rd consistent manner within EPD programmes being alongside operational each EPD Programme developed by construction impacts within schemes and are independently EPD Schemes such as such as DGNB or BREEAM, verified. Historically, IBU in Germany or the and enabling robust and LCA PCR EPD the EPD Schemes for International EPD® scheme, consistent comparison of Life Cycle Assessment Product Catergory Rules Environmental construction products in use the same, consistent, products at the building Product Declaration Germany, France, the UK, transparent and industry level irrespective of the EPD Netherlands, Norway, etc accepted methodology, Scheme used.” and those developed by Standard Trade Associations such as ISO 14040 EN15804 ISO 14025 the European Aluminium ISO 21930 Association have each EN15804 developed their own PCRs, so they have different rules, Jane Anderson Who formats and procedures, Principal Consultant Manufacturer Industry-wide Programme Owner even though they are all PE International standard (e.g. IBU in Germany)
  16. 16. 30 31 Just the facts guide Can’t I just look for a green label It’s not surprising people look for shortcuts to help them decide. After all, few of us have the time to study every purchase we make. That’s why there are so many labels offering quick assurance about product sustainability credentials.
  17. 17. 32 33 Just the facts guide Can’t I just look for a green label? You may well be asking “In a world in which And the supply chain needs ‘Why does it have to be this customers are increasingly to respond with consistent complicated to choose the looking for evidence of the and reliable information, most sustainable product? sustainability credentials of But when you look carefully a multitude of different Can’t I just look for a product at how some labels are products, and increasingly approaches will only with a green label?’ administered, you realise that confused by the proliferation confuse specifiers and you cannot just rely on labels. It’s not surprising people look of claims and labels that ultimately hinder for shortcuts to help them they find, we need as Some are too easy to obtain sustainable design.” decide. After all, few of us much clarity and simplicity or focus on a narrow range have the time to study every as possible. We need of issues. Others lack purchase we make. That’s the facts, presented in a independent certification or why there are so many labels credible, independent and may even be administered by “It is great to see more offering quick assurance the manufacturers themselves. standardised way, that takes suppliers working to report about product sustainability Many labels duplicate each into account the full life the environmental and Lorna Pelly credentials. other, confusing clients and cycle impacts. And that’s obliging manufacturers to social performance of Principal Sustainability what we’ll get with EPDs.” certify the same product their products, but the Advisor, Forum for the Future several times. Unfortunately, wide range of methods some of the best marketed being used can lead labels are the least robust. to some dangerously misleading or ambiguous To judge the value of a label claims. We need clarity it is important to understand Paul King and standardisation on who is behind it, how it is Chief Executive, metrics so that design certified, what factors it covers UK Green Building Council and whether it conforms to decisions and performance recognised international monitoring can be based standards. You need to look on sound evidence and behind the label. transparent benchmarking
  18. 18. 34 35 Just the facts guide Who is behind the label? Who certifies the label? Type Who is behind and main motive Key issues Type Who is certifying Key issues Examples Private A commercial entity seeking to Faster to develop First party The company self- Claims have not been Most marketing earn money Motivated by need to declares independently claims, recruit paying participants tested or verified product specifications Might not allow open competition for certification Semi-private Industry group with common Has vested interests favouring Second Involves a trade Offers little assurance Carbon neutrality interests one industry or material over party association or against conflict of claims verified by another consulting firm interest because the auditors, private labels setting the standard company pays the or verifying claims assuror Third party Independent entity responding Focus on technical aspects Third party Independent third Certifiers can be Green Seal, to a public issue Might be bureaucratic party conducts ANSI (American Sustainable Carpet testing or verification National Standards Assessment Standard Institute) approved ANSI/NSF 140-2007 to demonstrate objectivity
  19. 19. 36 37 Just the facts guide What is the scope International standards of the label? for environmental labels and declarations: ISO14020 series Type Who is the scope? Key issues Examples Type LCA needed Third party required What the label means Suitability for B2B Single Recycled content, Narrow scope might GUT test on VOCs Type I – No Yes Product Average attribute Volatile organic miss other key issues Certified complies with compound (VOC) ecolabels the conditions emissions, Carbon set by the label neutral, Toxicity – usually single benefit Type II – No No Improvement Average Self- of one declarations environmental aspect Multi - Complete or partial The wider the scope, EPDs attribute LCA the more reliable it is Type III – Yes Yes Life-cycle Good EPDs information
  20. 20. 38 39 Just the facts guide Our opinion on labels: Nice product, shame We prefer the geeks to about the company the geezers “Unfortunately a product’s In our view, these are the “We do a great deal 1 Is sustainability critical to business strategy? sustainability performance principles of a fair and reliable of reputation research See if the annual report includes sustainability risks cannot be reduced to a label: for global companies and opportunities. label. To understand the • Label should be owned by across the world. What 2 Does the CEO discuss sustainability personally? implications of a purchasing an independent not-for-profit we have observed is Search the web for key speeches. choice, you have to be organisation that demonstrating a 3 Data history – at least five years? willing to look a little deeper commitment to responsibility • Certifiers should be 4 at the environmental and independent that goes beyond the gates Look at the sustainability report. Are the carbon targets social impacts throughout of their factories counts absolute or normalised, e.g. divided by income or units sold? the product life-cycle. • The label criteria should be when it comes to building based on full LCA How are carbon reductions being achieved? Efficiency and I don’t see a future for trust. Companies working to 5 InterfaceFLOR believes most in-house renewable energy are usually more sustainable of the labelling schemes environmental labels in • Consultants advising on label make a positive difference than green electricity purchases and offset schemes. currently available fail to fully product marketing.” applications should not be across their sector, country linked to certifiers 6 Are other environmental impacts reported and addressed, assess product sustainability. or the world is an important e.g. waste, waster, toxicity? The schemes generally aim to • Labels should be indicator of differentiated attract wide participation by independently certified as leadership.” 7 Does the company report and address social impacts, manufacturers and therefore ‘Type III’ under ISO14025 e.g. human rights, employment, labour conditions in the set the bar for qualification supply chain? at a level that is too easy to A label may be the starting Does the company offer services and advice to support Simon Propper 8 achieve. The result is that point in your search but it will customers’ sustainability aims? For example, does it instead of distinguishing Managing Director, Context rarely provide a reliable and collect and recycle its products at the end of their life? between products, most labels thoroughly researched answer tend to lump them together to the question: ‘Which is the Chris Coulter 9 Is the company’s sustainability material objective? in one category. We are also Senior Vice President, Do they discuss challenges and difficulties? most sustainable?’ concerned that privately owned GlobeScan Incorporated 10 How do NGOs and the media view the company? labels are frequently expensive Search for articles and campaigns. These may not be and not technically rigorous, accurate or unbiased but enable you to evaluate the especially if they are ‘paid for’. quality of the company’s response.
  21. 21. 40 41 Just the facts guide References and Further reading InterfaceFLOR www.interfaceflor.eu/epd European Commission – Joint Research Centre. Life Cycle Thinking and Assessment. http://lct.jrc.ec.europa.eu/ Buildings Common Carbon Metric by UNEP SBCI http://www.unep.org/sbci/pdfs/UNEPSBCICarbonMetric.pdf EPDs information about building materials http://bau-umwelt.de/hp481/Environmental-Product-Declarations-EPD.htm ISO14040 www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail?csnumber=37456 ISO14020 www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=34425 Reference for Embodied Carbon in concrete www.sustainableconcrete.org.uk Reference for International EPD® System www.environdec.com
  22. 22. 42 If you want to know more, please go to www.interfaceflor.eu/letsbeclear and our blog www.interfaceflorcutthefluff.com Get in touch Contact Ramon Arratia Sustainability Director InterfaceFLOR EMEAI ramon.arratia@interfaceflor.eu

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