The European Commission is developing an assessment framework to monitor the evolution of the overall environmental impact associated with EU consumption, as policy tool supporting the transition to a resource efficient and circular economy. Assessing the environmental impacts of consumption of goods and services is crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal on responsible production and consumption (SDG 12).
The modelling assessment framework is designed to look both backwards and forwards and to enable relative comparisons of different dimensions, including:
- territorial bases and countries scores
- consumption areas (e.g. impacts of Food versus impacts of Mobility)
- product level (food product A versus food product B or an Ecolabelled versus a conventional product) and for performance assessment using overarching references such as planetary boundaries or policy targets in 2020
The established assessment framework may become a reference tool for scenarios and policies that contribute to sustainable consumption.
This assessment framework is built on a “Consumption”-based perspective in which environmental impacts of the entire product life cycle (raw material extraction, production, use phase, re-use/recycling and disposal) are allocated to the country where the product is consumed (EU Consumption Footprint) or the consumer who purchases the good (EU Consumer Footprint). Therefore, based on trade statistics, environmental impacts of the production of imported goods consumed in the EU are included in the analysis, whereas the impacts of production of exported goods are not.
EU consumption is assessed within the framework via a set of indicators that answer the following questions:
The indicators of the EU Consumer Footprint are developed in a modular way based on Basket-of-products (BoP) indicators for 5 key consumption areas: Food, Housing, Mobility, Household goods and Electric/electronic appliances. These BoP indicators are then based on Life Cycle Assessments of products that fall under each consumption area, thus forming the respective product basket.
Within this framework, the potential environmental impacts due to EU consumption are assessed for the entire product life cycle and include the following environmental impact categories:
Based on these life cycle environmental impact indicators, a composite indicator is developed to support policies on sustainable consumption and the SDGs.
The project in numbers
- 15 impact categories assessed (using the ILCD impact assessment method) and development of one composite indicator
- 5 key consumption areas of the Consumer Footprint (food, housing, mobility, household goods and electric/electronic appliances) covered and more than 70 life cycle assessments performed for product groups with more than 100 life cycle inventory models (LCI)
- Direct funding of 700,000€, with an additional 1,200,000€ in procurement contracts related to Product Environmental Footprint Life Cycle datasets and remodelling.
This EC Project contributes to 10YFP knowledge basis developed by UNEP.
Booth at the Night of Researchers in Turin showed how LCA and the Basket of Product indicators can help people understand the environmental impact of food choices.
Publications and dissemination
- Papers published
- Sala S., Castellani V. (2019) The Consumer Footprint: monitoring Sustainable Development Goal 12 with process-based life cycle assessment. Journal of Cleaner production https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.118050
- Castellani V., Beylot A., Sala S (2019) Environmental impacts of household consumption in Europe: comparing life cycle-based bottom-up and top-down approaches. Journal of Cleaner Production, 240, 117966 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.117966
- Sanyé-Mengual E, Secchi M, Corrado S, Beylot A, Sala S (2019) Assessing the decoupling of economic growth from environmental impacts in the European Union: a consumption-based approach. Journal of Cleaner Production, 236: 117535 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.07.010
- Beylot A., Corrado S., Sala S. (2019) Environmental impact of European Trade: Interpreting results of process-based LCA and Input-Output Analysis towards hotspot identification International Journal of LCA, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-019-01649-z
- Crenna E., Sinkko T., Sala S. (2019) Biodiversity impacts due to food consumption in Europe. Journal of Cleaner Production, 227: 378-391 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.04.054
- Crenna E, Secchi M, Benini L, Sala S (2019) Global environmental impacts: data sources and methodological choices for calculating normalisation factors. International Journal of LCA, p.1-27, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-018-1534-9
- Beylot A., Secchi M, Schmidt J, Merciai S, Sala S. (2019) Assessing the environmental impacts of EU consumption at macro-scale. Journal of Cleaner Production, 216: 382-393 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.01.134
- Faragò M; Benini L; Sala S; Secchi M; Laurent A. (2019) National inventories of land occupation and transformation flows in the world for land use impact assessment. International Journal of LCA, 24 (8):1333-1347 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-018-01581-8
- Allacker, K., Castellani, V., Baldinelli, G., Bianchi, F., Baldassarri, C. and Sala, S., (2019) Energy simulation and LCA for macro-scale analysis of eco-innovations in the housing stock, International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 24 (6): 989-1008, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-018-1548-3
- Lavagna M., Baldassari C., Campioli A., Giorgi S., Dalla Valle A, Castellani V., Sala S (2018) Benchmarks for environmental impact of housing in Europe: definition of archetypes and LCA of the residential building stock Building and Environment 145: 260–275 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2018.09.008
- Vivanco D., Sala S., McDowall W., (2018) Roadmap to rebound: how to address rebound effects from resource efficiency policy, Sustainability 2018, 10, 2009; doi:10.3390/su10062009
Cristóbal, J., Castellani, V., Manfredi, S. & Sala, S. (2018). Prioritizing and optimizing sustainable measures for food waste prevention and management. Waste Management, 72:3-16 (download)
- Castellani V. Lorenzo B, Sala S (2017) Hotspots analysis and critical interpretation of food life cycle assessment studies for selecting eco-innovation options and for policy support Journal of Cleaner Production, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.05.078 (download)
- Notarnicola B, Tassielli G, Renzulli PA, Castellani V, Sala S (2017) Environmental impact of food consumption in Europe. Journal of Cleaner Production, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.06.080 (download)
- Castellani V, Benini L, Sala S, Pant R (2016) A distance-to-target weighting method for Europe 2020 International Journal of LCA, p. 1-11 doi: 10.1007/s11367-016-1079-8 (download)
- Polizzi di Sorrentino E., Woelbert E., Sala S. (2016) Consumers and their behavior: state of the art in behavioral science supporting use phase modeling in LCA. International Journal of LCA, 21 (2): 237-251, doi:10.1007/s11367-015-1016-2 (download)
- Benini L., Sala S (2016) Integrated assessment of environmental impact of Europe in 2010: uncertainty and sensitivity of the normalisation factors to methodological assumptions. International Journal of LCA, 21(2):224-236, doi: 10.1007/s11367-015-1013-5 (download)
- Sala S., Benini L., Mancini L., Pant R. (2015) Integrated assessment of environmental impact of Europe in 2010: data sources and extrapolation strategies for calculating normalisation factors. International Journal of LCA, 20(11):1568-1585; DOI: 10.1007/s11367-015-0958-8 (download)
- Publication of preceding project (LC-IND)
- Benini L, Sala S, Manfredi S, Goralczyk M (2014) Indicators and targets for the reduction of the environmental impact of EU consumption: Overall environmental impact (resource) indicators. (Deliverable 3 AA LC-IND with DG ENV). European Commission, Joint Research Centre; 2014.
- Sala S, Dewulf J, Benini L. (2014) Indicators and targets for the reduction of the environmental impact of EU consumption: Methodology for 2020 targets based on environmental impact indicators (Deliverable 4 AA LC-IND with DG ENV). European Commission, Joint Research Centre; JRC92586
- Dewulf J, Manfredi S, Sala S, Castellani V, Goralczyk M, Notarnicola B, Tassielli G, Renzulli P, Ferrão P, Pina A, Baptista P, Lavagna M. Indicators and targets for the reduction of the environmental impact of EU consumption: Basket-of-products indicators and prototype targets for the reduction of environmental impact of EU consumption (Deliverable 5 AA LC-IND with DG ENV). European Commission, Joint Research Centre; 2014. JRC92892
- Sala S, Benini L, Mancini L, Ponsioen T, Laurent A, Van Zelm R, Stam G, Goralczyk M, Pant R. (2014) Methodology for building LCA-compliant national inventories of emissions and resource extraction. Background methodology for supporting calculation of Product Environmental Footprint normalisation factors and resource efficiency indicators for EU. EUR 26871. Luxembourg (Luxembourg): Publications Office of the European Union; 2014. JRC92036