Environment & circular economy

Expertise built on a flagship standard: ISO 14001

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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  • Hervé Ross-Carré

    “Environment & Circular Economy” discussion group leader

A FLAGSHIP STANDARD: ISO 14001:2015

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.

Learn more about ISO 14001: 2015

Learn more about ISO 14001: 2015

THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY, A GROWING CONCERN

economie circulaire

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 EXISTING NORMATIVE FRAMEWORK

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.

> The table

SUSTAINABLE PROCUREMENT

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.

 

STANDARDS

NF X50-135-1 (August 2012)Purchasing function – Sustainable purchasing – Guide for the use of ISO 26000 – Part 1: policy – strategy – Purchasing function

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

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:

  • air conditioners and comfort fans
  • circulators
  • household dishwashers
  • household lighting
  • household refrigeration appliances
  • household washing machines
  • electric motors
  • external power supplies
  • fans (driven by motors with an electric input power between 125 W and 500 kW)
  • simple set-top boxes
  • off-mode losses of electrical and electronic equipment (household and office)
  • televisions
  • tertiary sector lighting (office and external)
INDUSTRIAL AND TERRITORIAL ECOLOGY

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.

Standards

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

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:

  • Theservice model centred on use. In this case a good is no longer sold, but made available to target customers who pay a fee for its use.
  • Theintegrated solution Solutions are offered which integrate products and services in such a way that the new scope of activity is able to take account of environmental and social externalities that were previously experienced as negative by certain categories of players.

> Useful link: European Institute of Functional and Cooperative Economy

Standards

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

RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION

Sustainable consumption consists in:

  • having access to products designed and produced under acceptable social conditions: no child labour, respect for human rights, non-degrading working conditions, etc.
  • developing products with the least environmental impact: short circuits, seasonal products, minimal waste, minimal consumption of resources for manufacture, minimal carbon footprint, etc.
  • being able to choose to communicate to distributors on rejection of products that do not meet this dual requirement
  • developing consumerism respectful of the inequalities in access to resources and geared towards fair division of the benefits of resource exploitation (genuine north-south cooperation, preservation of local agriculture and industry, location of production activities balanced between segment players from production through to consumption, etc.)
  • actively opposing speculation on consumer goods and especially on basic necessities

actively supporting recycling and re-use of raw materials which are in fact resources

Ecolabels

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.

The European Ecolabel

Ecolabel-1

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.

The NF Environment mark

 

logo-label_nf_environnement-300x223

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

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

RECOVERY, REPAIR, RE-USE

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.

Standards

NF ISO 15176 (April 2003) > Soil quality – Characterization of excavated soil and other soil materials intended for re-use

NF EN 378-4+A1 (July 2012) > Refrigerating systems and heat pumps – Safety and environmental requirements – Part 4: operation, maintenance, repair and recovery

RECYCLING AND WASTE MANAGEMENT

Use this ultra-simple tool to evaluate your environmental performance and compare your results!


Indiko Environmental Performance is a participative and free sector-level benchmarking tool featuring simple and relevant environmental indicators. The tool can be used for an entire organization or even a specific site or entity, and is available to all players determined to reduce their impact on the planet.

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