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Business-to-consumer communication

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Business-to-consumer communication

The concept of type III environmental declarations was developed to primarily be used in business-to-business communication, but their use in business-to-consumer communication is not precluded by the standards.

Companies at the forefront of supply chain transparency have made several interesting attempts at communicating information from EPDs to consumers, e.g. for food and drink items, and there is currently a lot of development going on in the field of environmental footprints.

Use of EPDs for business-to-consumer communication

The standard ISO 14025 sets additional requirements on EPDs that are intended for business-to-consumer (B2C) communication or are likely to be used by consumers. The EPD shall normally  be based on the full life cycle of the product. Explanatory materials shall be available and the means to get this material shall be stated in the declaration. No part of the required content shall be omitted or simplified for B2C communication. ISO 14025 also requires that type III environmental declarations intended for B2C communication to be available to the consumer at the point of purchase.

One potential pitfall when using EPDs for B2C communication is that the EPD, or a reference to the EPD, may be misinterpreted as proof that the product with an EPD is environmentally superior to competing products that do not have an EPD. This is not the case: an EPD is a transparent declaration that may be made for any product on the market.

The contents in the EPD must be in line with the requirements and guidelines in ISO 14020. Any environmental claims based on the EPD is recommended to meet the requirements in ISO 14021, national legislation and best available practices in the markets in which it will be used. The international standard ISO 14021 states that only environmental claims that can be supported by up-to-date and documented facts may be used. Vague claims, such as "environmentally friendly" should be avoided. 

What makes EPDs suitable for business-to-consumer communication?

There is generally an increased demand from customers for companies to be transparent and to take responsibilities for the whole supply chain of their products. EPDs are based on the life cycle-perspective, and provides independently verified and comparable information.

How to use EPDs for business-to-consumer communication

The key to using EPD for B2C communication is to avoid being misleading, providing a transparent declaration of all relevant environmental impacts at the same time as providing explanatory materials. As B2C communication was not the primary intended use of the concept, there is still a great possibility for improving how EPDs may be presented to be seen as credible and understandable.

1. Use of the EPD-logotype on packagings, etc.

It is allowed to use the EPD logotype on the product or the packaging if the product have a valid environmental product declaration. In connection with the logotype the registration number of the EPD shall be presented togheter with a reference to www.environdec.com. It is not allowed to make claims that implicates that the logotype is an environmental label.

Granarolo EPD S-P-00366
Reference to the EPD on the packaging of Granarolo Organic Pasteurized Milk (S-P-00209).

2. Use of the results from the EPD on packagings, etc.

It is also allowed to use results from the EPD, as the potential environmental impacts, on the product or packaging. One example is to present the GWP in CO2-equivalents on the packaging. In connection this information there shall be information that the result comes from an EPD, the registration number of the EPD and a reference to www.environdec.com.

3. Use of the results from an EPD in other communication

As the EPD is a rather technical document, other ways to communicate the information to consumers might be more relevant. The results from the EPD can be used in product brochures, marketing material, websites, mobile apps etc, as longs as it is made clear that the information is retrieved from an EPD with a reference to the registration number of the EPD and www.environdec.com for more information.

Any environmental claims based on the EPD is recommended to meet the requirements in ISO 14021 and national legislation and best available practices in the markets in which it will be used. The international standard ISO 14021 states that only environmental claims that can be supported by up-to-date and documented facts may be used. Vague claims, such as "environmentally friendly" should be avoided.

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