Legislation increasingly requires economic players to be accountable on environmental matters. In the 2015 French Energy Transition Law for example, there is in particular an obligation on climate change-related reporting, detailed in a decree dated 29 December 2015.
Quantifying greenhouse gas emissions, defining the characteristics of a recycled material, ecolabelling on a product or service with lower environmental impact, and so on. In the area of concern for the environment, standardization is omnipresent. And what is also charged with providing a framework for a subject of growing concern, the circular economy? Standardization. A voluntary standard constitutes a benchmark on which a certification process can then be based. Find out what AFNOR Group offers in this area, starting with the flagship standard on Environmental Management Systems, ISO 14001, revised in 2015.
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The first environmental management standard, originally published in 1996, ISO 14001 is especially appreciated for its operational aspect. Adopted by more than 250,000 users certified in 155 countries, ISO 14001 underwent changes in 2015 to take account of developments in markets and in society’s expectations. Improved environmental performance, integration of external interested parties, prioritizing risks, definition of issues… The new version of the standard confirms its basic principles but also explores new ways forward.
The circular economy is about producing goods and services while at the same time reducing consumption and wastage of raw materials, water and energy sources. It is based on ecodesign, repair and recycling of products. It aims to optimize resource management (materials and energy) so as to minimize their production and save on consumption of raw materials. The model is inspired by natural ecosystems and their loop type operation.
The circular economy also aims for a paradigm shift from a so-called linear economy by reducing wastage of resources and environmental impact and by increasing efficiency at all stages of the commodity economy.
The body of standards relating to the circular economy is extensive. At AFNOR this subject is the focus of work by numerous strategic committees (CoS), responsible for collective management of standardization programmes. Each strategic committee brings together the main decision-makers from the relevant economic sector, defines the priorities and prepares France’s positions at the international level, anticipating desirable normative developments.
Sustainable procurement is a procurement method which integrates environmental and social criteria into the processes involved in purchasing goods and services, as a means to reduce impact on the environment, increase benefits for society and strengthen economic sustainability of organizations, throughout the product life cycle.
NF X50-135-2 (August 2012): Purchasing function – Sustainable purchasing – Guide for the use of ISO 26000 – Part 2: operational deployment
NF EN 62402 (January 2008): Obsolescence management – Application guide
Ecodesign is an innovative approach characterized by integration of environmental criteria as from the design phase of a product or service. The challenge is to reduce the environmental impacts throughout the life cycle, from extraction of natural resources through to end-of-life.
The recognized method for an environmental evaluation of products is the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This method, introduced in France from the early 1990s, is now the subject of two international standards: ISO 14040 which presents the general LCA approach and its different phases, and ISO 14044 which focuses on the assessment phase and on ranking the environmental impacts. Effective ecodesign necessitates a good understanding of the concepts and rationale underpinning LCA.
Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishes a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products. Fifteen or so European regulations specify the requirements for certain products:
Industrial and territorial ecology is one of the seven pillars underlying the circular economy concept. The 2015 French Energy Transition Law, among others, encourages deployment of the concept in territories.
NF EN ISO 14015 (August 2010): Environmental management – Environmental assessment of sites and organizations (EASO)
NF EN ISO 14001 (October 2015): Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use
GA X30-550 (June 2003): Environmental management systems – Guide for application of ISO 14001 to territorial authorities – Recommendations for implementation within a territorial authority or one of its services and approach to implementation over a territory.
The functional economy is a form of collaborative economy which aims to replace the sale of a good with the sale of a service or integrated solution fulfilling the same functions as the good, or even broader functions, while consuming fewer resources and less energy and creating positive environmental and social externalities.
Two models can be distinguished:
> Useful link: European Institute of Functional and Cooperative Economy
FD X50-153 September 2009 > Value analysis – Recommendations for use
FD X50-159 November 2013 > Functional analysis and value analysis – Practical guide for very small-sized businesses and SMEs – Application guide for the “functional analysis and value analysis” approach
NF X50-152 September 2007 > Value management – Basic characteristics of value analysis
NF X50 151 September 2007 > Value management – Functional expression of need and functional performance specification
NF X50-100 November 2011 > Value management – Functional analysis, basic characteristics – Functional analysis: need (or external) functional analysis and technology/product (or internal) functional analysis – Requirements for deliverables and implementation approach
NF EN 1325 April 2014 > Value management – Vocabulary – Terms and definitions
FD X50-158 February 2007 > Value management – Value management contributions to corporate processes
NF EN 12973 June 2000 > Value management
Sustainable consumption consists in:
actively supporting recycling and re-use of raw materials which are in fact resources
Ecolabels identify products and services that are more environmentally friendly. The criteria adhered to guarantee fitness for purpose of products and services and reduced environmental impacts throughout their life cycle.
Two ecolabels are issued in France: the NF Environment mark for the French market and the European Ecolabel for the European Union market.
Created in 1992, the EU Ecolabel is the only official European environment friendly label usable in all EU Member States. In France it is issued by the independent certification body AFNOR Certification.
It is based on the principle of a global approach taking into consideration the entire life cycle of a product: extraction of raw materials, manufacture, distribution, use, recycling or disposal after use. Quality and usage are also taken into account.
The EU Ecolabel was established by Council Regulation (EEC) 880/92 of 23 March 1992, published in the OJEC of 11 April 1992. The relevant EU regulation in force today is Regulation (EC) 66/2010 of 25 November 2009. It has been applicable since 20 February 2010 and concerns products and services.
It applies to products and services intended for consumers or professional users. It may be used on products and services that meet the criteria in the certification standards applicable to each category.
The following are excluded from the application scope of the European Ecolabel: medicines for human use, veterinary medicines and any type of medical device. Foods and animal feed products are provisionally excluded.
Created in 1991, the NF Environment mark is the French Ecolabel issued by AFNOR Certification, an independent certification body. It is a voluntary certification mark covering products and services. Any organization wishing to acquire this mark may file an application. The mark aims to certify that products or services conform to the requirements set out in the specifications (or standards) relating to their functional quality and environmental quality.
The NF Environment mark is intended to certify that the products or services to which it is affixed have a lower environmental impact at every stage of their life cycle, while offering satisfactory functional quality compared with other similar products or services available on the market. It is governed by a reference document, General Rules of the NF Environment Mark revised on 23 April 2012.
Environmental labelling consists in providing consumers with information on certain environmental impacts of a product on the packaging (in particular its “carbon footprint”). Initiated following the Grenelle Environment programme, a trial took place in France from July 2011 to July 2012. A report was presented to the French Parliament: www.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/Bilan-au-Parlement-de-l.html.
The method for calculating these impacts has been on the agenda of an ADEME-AFNOR working group since September 2008 with regard to mass-market goods grouped into broad product categories. Objective: to establish a transverse methodology in order to construct relevant indicators, in addition to the carbon footprint, for each product category.
Best practices standard AFNOR BP X30-323-0 defines the general principles for environmental communication on mass-market products and specifies the general principles for impact calculations. This standard has been transposed into 17 sector-level documents. They define the general principles for environmental labelling and specify the general methodology for impact calculations.
AFNOR hosts a site detailing all phases of the project: http://affichage-environnemental.afnor.org
Who hasn’t felt annoyed when a device stops working just a few days after the warranty expires? Planned obsolescence is the term for certain industrial practices intended to reduce the life or use of a product thereby encouraging more frequent replacement. Article 99 of the French Energy Transition Law of 17 August 2015 establishes a new penalty mechanism. But standardization is also a major ally in this area.
NF ISO 15176 (April 2003) > Soil quality – Characterization of excavated soil and other soil materials intended for re-use
Household and industrial waste, recycling of paper, metal, plastic, etc. The end-of-life stage of materials and their reprocessing to create other materials is the subject of numerous normative documents.
FD CR 13504 October 2000 > Packaging – Material recovery – Criteria for a minimum content of recycled material
NF EN 13430 October 2004 > Packaging – Requirements for packaging recoverable by material recycling –
GA X30-012 > Waste – Recycling terminology
NF EN 643 March 2014 > Paper and board – European list of standard grades of paper and board for recycling
NF EN 12258-3 September 2003 > Aluminium and aluminium alloys – Terms and definitions – Part 3: scrap (raw materials for recycling)
NF ISO 15270 November 2009 > Plastics – Guidelines for the recovery and recycling of plastics waste
NF EN 2955 November 1993 > Aerospace series – Recycling of titanium and titanium alloy scrap
XP ISO/PAS 30004 February 2012 > Ships and marine technology – Ship recycling management systems – Guidelines for the implementation of ISO 30000
H60-300 October 1994 > Packaging – Energy recovery from used packaging
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