Making use of life cycle assessment and environmental product declarations: A survey with practitioners

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) represent important sources of information in applications such as ecodesign and process optimization. However, their use in comparisons and communication is still limited. Therefore, this article aims to understand the use of LCA- and EPD-information from the perspective of the practitioners, that is, professionals with experience in dealing with this type of information. A survey was built consisting of two questionnaires and two webinars, with questions related to core themes: frequency and purpose of use, comparability, and advantages and disadvantages for practical use and reliability of different presentation formats. Also, two suggested benchmarking frameworks were presented and discussed, later being commented upon and evaluated. Out of the 55 respondents, 76% stated that they use both LCA- and EPD-information, primarily to fulfill requirements from customers, in environmental management systems and for marketing purposes. It was also stated that they use LCA (73%)- and EPD (56%)-information to make comparisons but presented different responses and there were no established patterns as to the procedures. Methodological limitations and the need for harmonization of Product Category Rules (PCRs) were mentioned as limiting factors for comparisons between studies. Regarding the benchmarking frameworks, both were indicated to be potentially applicable in communication with consumers and between companies. It is concluded that LCA- and EPD-information is used by the practitioners in different applications and that there may be a need to increase standardization efforts of benchmarking procedures in order to improve communication with nonspecialist audiences.

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