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Status and Opportunities to Support Product Category Rules in the U.S.



Rita Schenck


Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are a kind of ecolabel that discloses the environmental impacts of a product over its life cycle, using the science of life cycle assessment. EPDs hold out the promise of supporting science based decisions in developing, purchasing, and using more environmentally sustainable products across the entire economy. There are substantial drivers both domestic and international to produce these labels. There are many standards in place that provide guidance to produce LCAs and EPDs (also called Type III ecolabels), but there are still substantial gaps in standardizing the metrics in these labels. Product Category Rules (PCRs) are the rules which specify how products will be evaluated. There are technical, social and economic barriers to the development of PCRs and creation of EPDs; there is a lack of consistency in the PCRs, and the infrastructure to support the reliability of measurement is lacking.NIST is well placed to support the development of PCRs and EPDs in the U.S. Assuring standardization of metrics to support commerce is its primary mission, and NIST already has a highly recognized LCA software in the BEES software, and a strong program in sustainable manufacturing. NIST can build on these assets to enable the needed infrastructure for PCRs and EPDs in the U.S. by: 1. Providing technical support and standardization of metric infrastructure: nomenclature, data quality assessment, system boundary setting; 2. Convening industry to develop the PCRs needed, bridging the different interests for a shared goal; 3. Convening diverse interests throughout the federal government to support PCR and EPD development, thus building the federal network to support PCRs and EPDs; and 4. Developing a platform for automation that embeds the metric infrastructure developed under 1) and the PCR decisions developed under 2) to provide a cost effective basis for EPDs to be adopted across the economy.
Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR) -


Product Category Rules (PCRs), Standards, Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), metrics, sustainable manufacturing


Schenck, R. (2013), Status and Opportunities to Support Product Category Rules in the U.S., Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD (Accessed April 14, 2024)
Created August 12, 2013, Updated February 19, 2017