Less waste more results new ISO Standard for eco efficiency assessment

Issue 43 – October 2012

Given today's economic turmoil, ongoing environmental challenges, and pressure to contribute to a more sustainable planet, a new ISO Standard ISO 14045:2012 for applying eco-efficiency assessment to product systems has a huge worldwide potential. The goal of eco-efficiency assessment is to optimise 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.

Bengt Steen, leader of the team of international experts who developed ISO 14045 Environmental management – Eco-efficiency assessment of product systems – Principles, requirements, and guidelines, says, '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 presently measured in a number of ways. ISO 14045, however, harmonises the assessment of eco-efficiency and makes it more transparent, giving increased credibility to assessments that sometimes are regarded as 'green-washing'.

Reginald Tan, Co-Chair of the working group that developed the Standard, says, 'Eco-efficiency is increasingly becoming a key requirement for success in business. 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.'

In practice, eco-efficiency is achieved through the pursuit of three core objectives.

  • Increasing product or service value

  • Optimising the use of resources

  • Reducing environmental impact

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 as prescribed by other Standards (ISO 14040:2006 Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Principles and framework and ISO 14044:2006 Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Requirements and guidelines).

Summarised from an ISO media release, 13 September 2012.

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Published in environment.

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