Product Category Rules

The PCR: a standardized LCA recipe

A PCR is a copyrighted document that is part of the EPD "cookbook" and contains the recipe to create a high-quality EPD for the product category you are interested in.

The PCR provides the instructions for how the life-cycle assessment (LCA) should be conducted. It sets out what you need to consider, including but not limited to:

  • System boundaries, i.e. which processes and stages of the product’s life cycle need to be considered
  • Declared/functional unit: the amount, weight and service life of the product being assessed
  • How to define e.g. the use phase and end-of-life options
  • What impact categories need to be assessed in addition apart from the standard set as described in our General Program Instructions (GPI)

Copyright of PCRs
Unless otherwise stated, the programme operator maintains the copyright of the PCR document to ensure that it is possible to publish, update when necessary, and make available to all organisations to develop and register EPDs.

Some more details on PCRs

Product Category Rules or PCRs provide the rules, requirements, and guidelines for developing an EPD for a specific product category.

Product Category Rules (PCRs) are used as complements to the general programme instructions (GPI), e.g. in terms of calculation rules, building scenarios, and EPD contents. They ensure that functionally similar products are assessed in the same way when conducting the LCA and for product comparison. I.e. a PCR should enable different practitioners using the PCR to generate consistent results when assessing products of the same product category. They are a key part of ISO 14025 as they enable transparency and comparability between EPDs.

Currently, +100 PCRs covering many product categories are already accessible via our PCR library that is accessible, here. When you are planning to develop an EPD, please make sure that you check our library, because a new PCR may need to be developed when there is none available of the shelf for the product category.

PCR News

Nothing wrong with a little help in everyday life. Below you will find answers to most common PCR questions received:

What is a PCR?

PCR documents are the basis for Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) – voluntary, quantified and verified communication of environmental information for a product in accordance with ISO 14025. The PCR define the calculation rules for the underlying life cycle assessment (LCA), additional information and the format for presentation in an EPD.

PCR are developed in the framework of a programme operating in accordance with ISO 14025, such as the International EPD® System.

What is the validity of a PCR?

A PCR is valid for a pre-determined period of time to ensure that it is updated at regular intervals. This period is normally three to five years.

An expired PCR shall not be used to develop and register new EPDs, and shall not be used to update a published EPD to give the EPD a prolonged period of validity. To be possible to use for these purposes, the expired PCR shall first be updated or have its period of validity prolonged.

How do I find existing PCRs?

All PCRs in the International EPD® System may be found in the database published at www.environdec.com. The Secretariat may assist you in finding the correct document.

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. A sub-page to www.environdec.com/PCR is available to assist in global PCR harmonization.

How do I comment on a PCR?

During the PCR development process, there is an open consultation during which any interested party is welcome to provide comments. The open consultation is further described in Section 5.3 of the General Programme Instructions.

Also otherwise during PCR development, or during the PCR validity period, any stakeholder is welcome to provide comments on the PCR by contacting the PCR Moderator or the Secretariat by e-mail.

Who develops a PCR?

The PCR development shall be done in an internationally-accepted manner based on an open, transparent, and participatory process either by:

companies and organisations in co-operation with other parties, such as trade associations and interest organisations,

institutions involving LCA/EPD experts in close cooperation with companies or trade associations and interest organisations, or by

single companies or organisations in the event they have the necessary in-house competence or choose to engage outside LCA/EPD experts.

PCR development is done by a PCR Committee, coordinated by a PCR Moderator. The PCR Moderator is appointed by the programme operator based on applications or nominations from stakeholders. The PCR Moderator should have good project management skills, familiarity with EPDs and the industry/product category, and at least basic understanding of LCA. The PCR Committee should be balanced and 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 programme operator shall maintain the copyright of the document to ensure that it is possible to publish, update when necessary, and available to all organisations to develop and register EPDs. Stakeholders participating in PCR development, either as part of the PCR Committee or by commenting during the open consultation, should be acknowledged in the final document and on the website.

How do I leave feedback or complaints on a PCR?

For our quality management it is very important that the Secretariat get information if there are any irregularities with EPDs, PCR or other published documents. To file a complaint, send an e-mail to the Secretariat: info@environdec.com.

To handle the complaint we need information about name, registration number, etc. of the document complained of. The complaint also must be clear in what way the document not meets the requirements in GPI, ISO 14025, EN 15804 or other steering document.

Anonymous complaints are not considered.

What is the procedure for approving a PCR?

The final draft PCR shall be reviewed by the Technical Committee functioning as the PCR review panel, supported by the Secretariat. The review shall address:

  • whether the choices regarding LCA-based content (system boundary, allocation rules, etc.), parameters/indicators, and additional environmental information are made according to the General Programme Instructions,

  • whether the PCR development process has been done according to the General Programme Instructions, and

  • how the PCR Moderator and PCR Committee handled the feedback received during the open consultation.

The results of the review should be documented in a PCR review report and shall lead to:

  • approval of the draft PCR, without need for changes,

  • approval of the draft PCR, after comments and suggested changes have been satisfactorily addressed, or

  • further review, after comments and suggested changes have been addressed.

If further changes are requested, the PCR Moderator and PCR Committee shall ensure that the review comments and suggested changes are considered in updating the draft PCR. The PCR may need several rounds of review by the PCR review panel and revision by the PCR Moderator and PCR Committee before its final acceptance.

Where can I find the latest UN CPC classification?

The online version of the United Nations Central Product Classification is unfortunately no longer available. It may be downloaded in PDF format on this page: https://unstats.un.org/unsd/classifications/unsdclassifications/.