An innovative Product Category Rule (PCR) specifying rules for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) focused on wood and paper has been developed by the North American Environmental Paper Network (EPN), an independent not-for-profit coalition with diverse expertise in forest and paper sustainability issues, and SCS Global Services (SCS), a leader in third-party environmental certification, auditing and standards development.
Initially announced in September 2015 and now finalized, this framework allows for the development of LCAs and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) that cover a comprehensive set of environmental and health impact categories, and provides the most complete and accurate environmental performance data available to date by:
- Considering all factors affecting environmental performance, including ecosystem impacts on biodiversity and forest carbon storage
- Using detailed algorithms to provide high relevance and certainty in results
- Employing a standardized methodology for meaningful apples-to-apples comparisons
- Building upon public methodology available for use by any LCA practitioner
- Robustly visualizing impacts and streamlining implementation through public data sources
“The development of Product Category Rule modules for roundwood, pulp, and paper is a significant step forward in helping purchasers identify low-impact sources of wood and paper,” said Tobias Schultz, Manager of Corporate Sustainability Services at SCS.
The PCR development committee included representatives from ENGOs, industry, academia, and other LCA experts. Throughout the development process, the committee consulted with a variety of external stakeholders and conducted multiple rounds of public outreach, including a 90-day public comment period.
“I was pleased to participate in the development of the PCR as a Working Group member. The working group and peer review panel brought deep scientific knowledge to discussions on key issues like carbon storage in forests and ecosystem impacts, and the resulting methodology is both deep and rigorous," said Robert Vos, Assistant Professor at University of Southern California. “This methodology represents an important step forward in approaches to evaluating the environmental performance of wood and paper.”
"Companies like ours are seeking robust information for making the most responsible sourcing decisions and to identify areas for continual improvement, said Skip Krasny, Manager of Sustainable Forestry Programs at Kimberly-Clark Corporation. “I was glad to review the innovative and thorough approach of this life-cycle methodology and look forward to seeing it used in practice."
“These new guidelines for measuring the impact of wood and paper products, including complete accounting of greenhouse gas emissions, are an important development for life cycle assessment and set a new bar for transparency and leadership in the forest products sector,” said Joshua Martin, the Director of the North American Environmental Paper Network. “We encourage practitioners and corporate leaders in sustainability to use them to assure the most transparent, up-to-date and comprehensive LCAs are conducted.”
The PCR and the LCA rules on which it is based are strongly supported by major ENGOs, academics, industry representatives, and other stakeholders. The LCA framework has been formally put forward by members of the US Technical Advisory Group to the ISO Technical Committee 207 for inclusion in the international standard for life cycle assessment, ISO 14044. As the only LCA methodology which requires all impacts associated with wood and paper production be considered in EPDs, it sets a new bar for transparent environmental claims in this sector.
About the North American Environmental Paper Network
The Environmental Paper Network is an international collaborative project of more than 140 organizations that have endorsed the Global Paper Vision and are working for social and environmental transformation in the production and consumption of pulp and paper. Regional network leadership is provided by committees in North America (environmentalpaper.org), Europe (environmentalpaper.eu) and China (environmentalpaper.cn).
About SCS Global Services
SCS Global Services has been providing global leadership in third-party environmental and sustainability certification, auditing, testing, and standards development for more than three decades. Its programs span a cross-section of industries, recognizing achievements in green building, manufacturing, food and agriculture, forestry, power generation and more. SCS is a Benefit Corporation, reflecting its commitment to creating a material positive impact on society and the environment.