Product Transparency Reporting

In a marketplace wary of green product hype, NSF International provides independent, science-based verification of environmental claims that achieve the highest levels of transparency.
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Environmental product declarations (EPDs) offer an international standard of communication to objectively compare and describe a product’s environmental impact throughout its entire life cycle from cradle to grave. An EPD report is based on a life cycle assessment (LCA), which is conducted in accordance with a product category rule (PCR).

As a program operator, NSF can assist your organization in developing product category rules for your industry, help develop your LCA and conduct LCA critical reviews, and provide EPD verifications across multiple product groups and industries. EPDs can qualify products for LEED v4 credits and help manufacturers become preferred vendors for green building project specifiers.

NSF also performs eco-efficiency analyses, which rely on the concepts outlined in the LCA standards, though they evaluate not only environmental burdens but also economic costs.

Product Category Rule (PCR)

Product category rules (PCRs) allow for review and comparison of different environmental product attributes among products in a defined category. They define the parameters for conducting a life cycle assessment for a product group and include requirements for the resulting report, the environmental product declaration (EPD). PCRs and EPDs help manufacturers differentiate their products in the marketplace and respond to increasing demands for more sustainable products and transparency of environmental claims.

NSF’s National Center for Sustainability Standards (NCSS) is an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) eligible program operator, and can guide industries, trade organizations or individual companies through an ISO 14025-compliant process to develop a PCR for their product categories.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

A life cycle assessment (LCA) is a transparent analysis of the environmental impacts of a product, system or service, including raw material acquisition, production, use and end of life. By identifying the critical impact categories, you can reduce environmental impacts where they are most beneficial and cost effective. In addition, ISO 14040-based LCAs can be used to meet green building rating system requirements such as LEED v4 and Green Globes.

A life cycle assessment provides many benefits, including allowing you to:

  • Gain a broad and comprehensive perspective of your product, system or service carbon footprint in order to reduce it, offset it or both
  • Benchmark the performance of alternative materials, product designs or packaging systems to identify best performance and money-saving scenarios
  • Support marketing claims of more sustainable products, systems, organizations or services

In addition, LCAs developed to ISO 14040 guidelines may qualify your products to meet green building criteria.

NSF has partner organizations that can also help you develop LCAs as well as assess, verify, offset or certify results.

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

An environmental product declaration (EPD) is an ISO 14025 standardized report of data collected in the life cycle assessment (LCA) as specified by the product category rules (PCRs). EPDs offer an international standard of communication to objectively compare and describe a product’s environmental impact throughout its entire life cycle from cradle to grave. They are included in LEED v4 in criteria for the Materials and Resources Category. EPDs are also increasingly required in international markets for consumer and commercial products.

Third-party EPD validation by NSF International proves that the data was collected in accordance with the applicable PCR and meets all ISO requirements. It allows manufacturers to:

  • Benchmark against other EPD reports
  • Identify areas for improvement of their environmental attributes
  • Provide customers with a way to choose between products based on environmental attributes
  • Help eliminate greenwashing by bringing transparency and credibility to the sustainability marketplace
  • Save money by adopting more sustainable operational practices and business approaches

Eco-Efficiency Analysis (EEA)

An eco-efficiency analysis (EEA) provides businesses and organizations a tool for more fully measuring the footprint of their products or processes. This analysis evaluates the economic and environmental impacts of a product or process through its anticipated life cycle. Eco-efficiency analyses rely on the concepts outlined in the life cycle assessment (LCA) standards developed by ISO (ISO 14040 through 14043). A key difference is that eco-efficiency analyses evaluate both environmental burdens and economic costs, whereas ISO LCAs evaluate only environmental burdens.

Our EEA methodologies and studies provide your business a method to achieve comprehensive environmental and economic data around your products. An EEA that meets the requirements of the protocol NSF P352 can accurately analyze a product and provide credible baseline data. From that baseline, you can prioritize environmental footprint or cost reduction efforts, support sustainable marketing claims or identify broader process optimization targets. The level of detail and data provided is far beyond that available in a LCA and can be the basis for attaining higher sustainability goals.

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