Material Use

Specifying efficient use of materials and considering their impact from manufacture to disposal.

Environmental Product Declarations

EPDs are an independently verified public declaration of environmental performance of materials or products for all or part of the life cycle. 

EPDs may be produced for specific materials or products (a product-specific EPD) or an average of the same or similar materials or products within a sector (average product EPD). 

EPDs must be developed in accordance with specific rules (called Product Category Rules (PCRs) that are developed and published by EPD schemes with input from interested stakeholders. These rules are necessary to ensure there is consistency and comparability when calculating potential impacts of materials or products within a product category. 

There are several EPD schemes globally including, for example, the IBU scheme in Germany and the International EPD System in Sweden. They operate in compliance with the international standard on EPDs – ISO 14025 (2006). 

In 2014 the Australasian Environmental Product Declaration (EPDŽ) programme was launched. This helps construction product manufacturers in New Zealand and Australia develop EPDs. The programme is a not-for-profit joint venture between the Life Cycle Association of New Zealand and the Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society. Its launch in New Zealand has been supported by the BRANZ Building Research Levy.

The Australasian EPDŽ Programme is aligned with the International EPDŽ System.

Allied Concrete is the first New Zealand company to publish an EPD.

EPD schemes provide a facility for manufacturers to develop and publish EPDs for their products. They ensure that the process for developing the rules and developing the EPDs meets all requirements in international standards, including independent review. 

An EPD differs from an ecolabel because an EPD does not reflect an environmental preference. An EPD is simply a statement of environmental performance based on a robust, transparent, data-driven process. While an EPD in itself does not provide an indication that a product is environmentally preferable, it can do this when (for example):

  • A product-specific EPD is compared with a sector average EPD for the same or similar products (demonstrating better environmental performance compared to the sector).
  • An updated product-specific EPD (or average product EPD) is compared with an older version (demonstrating continuous improvement at a manufacturer or sector level).
  • A product-specific EPD from a manufacturer within a sector is compared to another manufacturer with a competing product in the sector (demonstrating better environmental performance of one product over another meeting the same function(s) within a sector).
  • A product-specific EPD in a sector is compared with an alternative product in another sector provided the EPDs are on a life cycle basis (demonstrating environmental performance between products from different sectors).  

Updated: 18 November 2014