It’s an hard dare (but someone has to do it)
Testing Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) before its methodology development phase – lead by the Directorate General for the Environment of the European Commission – is ended? Delivering PEF compliant Life Cycle Assessment studies while the PEF Guidance and the methodological rules for every product category (PEFCR, Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules) very last versions are still to be published? This is the hard dare of the PEFMED project, to be put in place in 9 Mediterranean areas analyzing different products belonging to 6 product categories.
How? The PEFMED project is reaching its goal through the creation of PEFMED international teams composed by Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) experts, sector experts and agrofood federations. Why? Because sharing different competences and comparing the experiences of different countries belonging to the same productive sector allows the project on one side to deep investigate the environmental performances of the clusters involved and on the other side to define effective solutions to improve their sustainability. For example, the dairy sector will be tested in three Mediterranean countries (Slovenia, Italy and Greece) while the olive oil production is the objective of the PEF analysis in Spain and France.
In this context ENEA plays the role of technical advisor for all the PEF studies coordinating the activities, sharing and facing methodological problems and defining a common approach in accordance with the DG ENV, since many of the reference documents and PEFCRs needed to deliver the studies are not available yet in their final version.
The project, indeed, has on one hand the opportunity to perform a stress test of the PEF methodology in order to highlights technical issues and suggest operative solutions to improve the tool, and on the other hand to allow specific agrofood sectors and LCA experts to have a first experience with the new footprint developed by the EU Commission. All the studies will be reviewed to verify their PEF compliance and will be analyzed by sector experts in order to identify potential technical and managerial eco-innovations to greener the eco-profile of the products life cycles analyzed and suggest strategies for regional policy definition positively affecting the agrofood clusters.
So far cluster representatives and S3 managers met in Madrid in March 2017 to define a common methodology for the pilot phase. In the meanwhile, DNV GL developed a set of socio-economic indicators to be tested in the companies involved in the PEFMED project together with the Product Environmental Footprint, in order to give a more holistic picture of the sustainability level reached by the products analyzed.
LCA experts have been trained on the PEF methodology in Bologna by the ENEA experts and will be updated about the last version of the socio-economic indicators in the forthcoming partner meeting in Athens, so that they will have the knowledge of the tool needed to perform the testing phase.
The results carried out by the PEF analysis will be exploited in the last part of the project to develop an improvement plan dealing with the environmental and socio-economic hot spots highlighted by the test, with the support of sector experts and S3 managers, in order to take into account also territorial aspects. Moreover, a marketing strategy will be defined to communicate to the market the key environmental performances by ways of transparency, reliability and completeness of the product chains analyzed in the PEFMED project.