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Launch of the Australasian EPD Programme

Press Release: Life Cycle Association of New Zealand (LCANZ)

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Launch of the Australasian EPD Programme

Wellington – 2 September 2014: The Life Cycle Association of New Zealand (LCANZ) announced today that the Australasian Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) Programme has been launched at the New Zealand Life Cycle Assessment Conference in Wellington – the first programme of its kind in Australasia.

EPDs are designed to meet the global market demand for science-based, transparent information about product environmental performance. “The Australasian EPD Programme is an important step towards making Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) mainstream in New Zealand and Australia”, says Barbara Nebel, President of LCANZ. Initiated by LCANZ, the Australasian EPD Programme was jointly developed with the Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society (ALCAS) in alliance with the International EPD System, one of the world's largest and most reputable EPD programme operators.

The Australasian EPD Programme has been set up as a separate company with funding from BRANZ and the Sustainable Steel Council. “This trans-Tasman initiative builds on the International EPD System to ensure international recognition and compatibility as well as a cost effective way of leveraging off existing experience”, comments Bryan King, Director of the Australasian EPD Programme. Mr King emphasises further that “without the significant financial kick-start funding we would not be in a position to start this world-class EPD Programme today.”

More honesty in sustainability

EPDs are based on an LCA study that follows fixed rules – called Product Category Rules (PCR) – for a specific product or product group. “This creates a level playing field. All plasterboard or street lighting products will follow the same rules or PCR for the appropriate product group”, describes Barbara Nebel, “and in contrast to many self-declared ‘green’ labels an EPD does not claim whether a product is more sustainable or greener than another.” The verified declaration simply discloses environmental information. Comparisons or rankings need to be made by professionals, such as architects, specifiers or procurement managers.

Importance for EPDs increases

EPDs are common in Europe, the US and parts of Asia and are gaining importance in Australasia. “From 2014, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) provides credits for EPDs and building-level Life Cycle Assessment within Green Star”, explains Rob Rouwette, President of ALCAS. “In addition, all EPDs performed in Australasia will be compatible with those in the EU. This will facilitate the export of goods into the EU - the largest single marketplace in the world with a GDP of nearly US$18 trillion.”

- Ends -

About EPDs and benefits for industry

An EPD is a standardised and verified way of quantifying the environmental impacts of a product based on a consistent set of rules that have been developed through a stakeholder consultation process. These impacts are based on the product’s consumption of raw materials and energy, waste generation, and emissions to air, soil and water over its full life cycle.

Meeting customer needs: EPDs provide a clear and transparent basis for communication of the environmental performance of products.

Identification of efficiency opportunities: Developing an EPD can lead to opportunities for identification of efficiency gains and cost savings.

Added credibility: Using a science-based approach and third-party verification, EPDs provide a consistent basis for declaring environmental impacts arising from products.

Helping achieve a “level playing field”: Products can only be fairly compared if they perform the same function, e.g. drying a pair of hands and by using standard, internationally agreed rules for the environmental assessment.

Preparing for changing market needs: As sustainability becomes an important driver in international and local markets, the development of the Australasian EPD Programme will ensure that New Zealand and Australian businesses are well prepared for changing market needs.

International recognition: EPDs are increasingly used to support product environmental credentials in key export markets, including Europe, Asia and the USA. The Australasian EPD Programme will provide an internationally recognised entry point for New Zealand businesses wanting to raise the environmental profile of their products. For construction product manufacturers, products with EPDs are increasingly gaining additional points under green building rating systems, such as Green Star (Australia), LEED and BREEAM.

About The Australasian EPD® Programme

The Australasian EPD® Programme provides a trans-Tasman platform for communicating credible environmental information. The Australasian EPD® Programme is aligned with its partner organization, the International EPD® System, to enable a harmonized and efficient platform for global EPD development and communication. The Australasian EPD® Programme is a strategic joint venture of the Life Cycle Association of New Zealand and The Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society.

About the Life Cycle Association of New Zealand (LCANZ)

The Life Cycle Association of New Zealand (LCANZ) provides a focal point for life cycle assessment and management in New Zealand. Another key goal of LCANZ is the promotion of life cycle thinking among businesses and the wider public.

About the Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society (ALCAS)

The Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society (ALCAS) is Australia’s peak professional organisation for people involved in the use and development of life cycle assessment, management and thinking.

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