Given today’s economic turmoil, ongoing
environmental challenges and pressure to contribute to a more sustainable
planet, a new ISO International Standard for applying eco-efficiency assessment
to product systems has a huge worldwide potential.
The newly published ISO 14045:2012, Environmental
management – Eco-efficiency assessment of product systems – Principles,
requirements and guidelines, describes the principles, requirements and
guidelines for eco-efficiency assessment for product systems.
Bengt Steen, leader of the team of international
experts who developed ISO 14045 explained its significance:
"Eco-efficiency is an aspect of sustainability relating the environmental
performance of a product life cycle to its value. In a world with growing
economies, an eco-efficiency assessment is a necessary management tool to
decrease the overall environmental impact.”
“Eco-efficiency is increasingly becoming a key
requirement for success in business,” adds Reginald Tan, Co-Chair of the
working group that developed the standard: “By applying ISO 14045, users are
able to concurrently address the characteristics of the environmental, business
and economic sustainability of their products and product systems.”
The goal of eco-efficiency assessment is to
optimize the performance value of the product system, for example, its
resource, production, delivery or use efficiency, or a combination of these.
The value may be expressed in monetary terms or other value aspects. The
result: doing more with less.
In practice, eco-efficiency is achieved through the
pursuit of three core objectives:
Bengt Steen concludes: “Eco-efficiency is presently
measured in a number of ways. To some extent, this may be motivated by varying
goal and scope. ISO 14045, however, harmonizes the assessment of eco-efficiency
and makes it more transparent, giving increased credibility to assessments that
sometimes are regarded as ‘green-washing’".
The key objectives of ISO 14045 are to:
Establish clear terminology and a common
methodological framework for eco-efficiency assessment
Enable the practical use of eco-efficiency
assessment for a wide range of product (including service) systems
Provide clear guidance on the interpretation of
eco-efficiency assessment results
Encourage the transparent, accurate and informative
reporting of eco-efficiency assessment results
Within eco-efficiency assessment, environmental
impacts are evaluated using life cycle assessment (LCA) as prescribed by other
International Standards (ISO 14040, ISO 14044).
ISO 14045:2012, Environmental management –
Eco-efficiency assessment of product systems – Principles, requirements and
guidelines, was prepared by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 207, Environmental
management, subcommittee SC 5, Life cycle assessment. It costs 140 Swiss francs
and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list
with contact details) and from ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store or
by contacting the Marketing, Communication and Information department.
18 September, 2012.