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Initiation Phase

The initiation phase includes the following elements: 1. Definition of the product category 2. Consider available PCRs 3. Appoint a PCR moderator 3. Seek cooperation with other parties to take part in the PCR Committee 4. Planning the PCR development 5. Announcement of PCR development


PCRs in the International EPD® System are classified according to the UN Central Product Classification system (UN CPC). A PCR may cover one or more 3, 4, or 5-digit CPC codes.

To find the correct product category for your PCR, see the UN CPC website.

Definition of the product category

The product category covered by a PCR shall, as far as possible, relate to the function of the product, i.e. that the same functional unit may be applied to products within its scope. When defining the scope of a product category, the following aspects should be considered:

  • primary functions of the product,
  • secondary functions of the product,
  • price elasticities, i.e. the exchangeability of two products in the way that an increase in price for one leads to an increase in the price of the other,
  • results from screening study/existing LCA literature for the product group,
  • UN CPC code(s), and
  • product category definition and scoping used in other similar or related systems, such as the criteria used for Type I environmental labels, criteria for green public procurement, or to meet international and national standards.

The product category definition should be made so that the development of the PCR is practical and feasible taking into account existing PCRs, the market situation, industry structure, potential applications, and the size of the stakeholder group affected.

The scope should be decided during PCR development in a discussion between the PCR moderator, PCR Committee, Secretariat, and Technical Committee, with the aim to reach consensus, as far as possible. The scope of the product category of a PCR may be reconsidered during PCR development, when PCRs are updated, or when new PCRs are proposed, and it should be based on the experience gained when using the PCR.

A definition of a product category should include synonyms as well as information about which similar or related products that are not included in the scope.

To facilitate discovery of PCRs, they should be classified at a three, four, or five digit level in the latest version of UN Central Product Classification (UN CPC)7. The PCR should also include a classification according to other commonly used schemes that are relevant depending on the geographical scope, applications, and product category, such as the Common Procurement Vocabulary (CPV), United Nations Standard Products and Services Code® (UNSPSC), Classification of Products by Activity (NACE/CPA), or Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC).

Consider available PCRs

Existing PCRs available at www.environdec.com shall be considered before starting the development of a new PCR to avoid overlaps in scope. Existing PCRs that cover a part of the life cycle of the product in question, e.g. agricultural products for processed food items, should be referenced for harmonisation across product categories and in supply chains.

Existing PCRs available in other programmes shall also be considered. The International EPD® System may recognise and adopt PCR documents prepared by other programme operators operating in accordance with ISO 14025 if they fulfil the requirements of the General Programme Instruction with particular regards to:

  • compliance with relevant standards,
  • definition of product category,
  • definition of functional unit or declared unit,
  • general application of LCA, e.g. the use of an attributional LCA approach, system boundary, allocation rules, impact categories, characterisation models, and approach for the system boundary setting for recycled material and material for recycling,
  • rules for inclusion of similar products in the same EPD,
  • time of EPD validity, and
  • process used to develop the document, e.g. inclusion and involvement of interested parties, open consultation, and review.

The programme operator may establish mutual recognition agreements with other programmes related to PCRs. Information about such agreements should be available on the website.

If a PCR with a relevant scope is identified in another programme, the Secretariat shall be contacted to plan the next step. If the existing PCR is approved by the review panel and the use of the PCR is approved by the other programme operator, the PCR will be considered adopted, and information about the PCR will be published at www.environdec.com. The adopted PCR may, thereafter, be used to develop and register EPDs within the International EPD® System.

If other internationally standardized methodologies exist that act as PCRs or give guidance on PCR development for certain product categories, and the guidelines are widely accepted and used by the market, it should be possible to develop and certify EPDs according to such a standard or guideline even though it is not fully compliant with the International EPD® System. The decision to adopt such documents shall be made by the programme operator and may be supported by the Technical Committee, when relevant.

If no existing PCR is identified for the product category, the PCR development shall continue with the following steps.

Appoint a PCR Moderator

PCR development is coordinated by a PCR moderator. The PCR moderator is appointed by the programme operator based on applications or nominations from stakeholders interested in developing a PCR for a new product category.

The PCR moderator should have good project management skills, familiarity with the EPD approach and the industry/product category, and at least a basic understanding of LCA.

Seek cooperation with other parties to take part in the PCR committee

PCRs should be developed as an open co-operative effort by a PCR Committee, assembled and led by the PCR moderator. The PCR Committee should include as many interested parties as possible from the geographical scope of the PCR, e.g. representatives from different companies and trade associations, to ensure broad acceptance and high quality of the final PCR. The attempt to involve other stakeholders is especially important in the event single companies initiate the work to develop a PCR.

The PCR Committee should include members representing the geographical scope of the PCR and interested in the product under study. Stakeholders that should be considered are those that:

  • manufacture products in the product category,
  • use products in the product category,
  • are experts in the product category,
  • represent manufacturers or users of products in the product category,
  • have financial interests in the product category,
  • are in the chain of accountability,
  • have authority or decision-making power over some aspect of products in the product category, 
  • are programme operators,
  • are PCR developers,
  • are experts in the field of product sustainability, and
  • are non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or other organisations interested in societal wellbeing or environment protection.

A stakeholder identification worksheet may be used to ensure that all affected parties and individuals are considered as potential stakeholders for the PCR Committee and the PCR stakeholder consultation group

The PCR Committee, as a whole, shall have competence in LCA and the key technologies and processes that contribute to the life cycle of those products that belong to the product category covered by the PCR. The PCR Committee should be composed of enough independent members to assure that the interests of one party do not dominate the PCR development process. Any potential conflicts of interest by PCR Committee members should be announced within the PCR Committee.

Planning the PCR development

The PCR moderator shall develop a time plan for the PCR development, including any physical or web-based meetings. The time plan shall provide estimated dates for important milestones, e.g. when the draft PCR is expected to be available for open consultation. If the time plan is revised, the PCR moderator shall inform the Secretariat.

Announcement of pcr development

When a decision is taken to start the work developing a PCR document, the PCR shall be announced by the Secretariat at www.environdec.com together with relevant information, including:

  • preliminary name and scope of the PCR,
  • name, organisation, and contact details of the PCR moderator,
  • list of members of the PCR Committee, and
  • preliminary time plan of PCR development

The announcement should also be done by the Secretariat through other channels, such as the newsletter, social media, or direct contact with stakeholders. The PCR moderator should announce PCR developments in relevant industry forums or industry publications, and by contacting the potential stakeholders identified.