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October 10, 2012

Environmental impacts of products addressed in ASTM initiative

Scott Jenkins

ASTM International (West Conshohocken, Pa.; has launched a new initiative aimed at understanding the real environmental impact of products, from raw material extraction to disposal and recycling.
"The ASTM International program will provide scientifically based, quantifiable information about product parameters such as resource consumption and ozone depletion, which will give both businesses and consumers an understanding of a product's real impact on the environment," says Timothy Brooke, vice president of certification, training and proficiency testing at ASTM International. Through ASTM's certification program, technical advisory committees will oversee the development process for PCRs.
The initiative is a Program Operator for Product Category Rules (PCRs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), which will provide the venue for developing PCRs and verifying EPDs. PCRs will detail the rules and guidelines for developing environmental declarations for products that can fulfill equivalent functions. EPDs will be verified to ensure their adherence to the ISO 14040 standards as well as to ensure that life cycle assessment data accurately describes the environmental aspects of a product. ASTM International has developed its program in accordance with ISO 14025 (Environmental Labels and Declarations, Type III Environmental Declarations, Principles and Procedures).
In ASTM Committee E60 on sustainability, a proposed standard practice will give guidance about information that all PCRs should contain regardless of the product. "For example, one life cycle assessment practitioner may assume that a product is sent to a landfill at the end of life while another may assume that a product is incinerated. Different environmental impacts result from these two different end-of-life scenarios. This standard will fill in many of the gaps that exist in current life cycle assessment standards," says Amy Costello, senior environmental scientist at Armstrong World Industries Inc., an E60 member and a current member of the ASTM board of directors.
Inquiries about developing new PCRs and verifying EPDs should be directed to ASTM's Certification and Declarations Department at Also, visit for more information regarding the ASTM International program.

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