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ISO Guide will help reduce environmental impacts of products

10 November, 2008

ISO has published an updated edition of its guide to reducing the potential environmental impact of products by taking environmental aspects into account in product standards.

Every product has an impact on the environment during all stages of its life-cycle, from extraction of resources to end-of-life treatment and the need to reduce the potential adverse impacts on the environment of a product is recognised around the world.

The newly published ISO Guide 64:2008, Guide for addressing environmental issues in product standards, is a practical tool for addressing these issues, as well as a contribution to sustainable international trade.

This Guide is intended for use by all those involved in the drafting of product standards. Standards writers are not expected to become environmental experts but, by using this Guide, they are encouraged to:

  • identify and understand basic environmental aspects and impacts related to the product under consideration, and
  • determine when it is possible and when it is not possible to deal with an environmental issue through a product standard.

However, the identification of these aspects and the prediction of their impacts is a complex process. When writing a product standard, it is important to ensure that an evaluation as to how products can affect the environment at different stages of their life-cycle is carried out as early as possible in the process of developing the standard.

ISO Guide 64:2008 proposes a step-by-step approach, based on the principle of life-cycle analysis, in order to promote a reduction of potential adverse environmental impacts caused by products.

The implementation of ISO Guide 64:2008 will help to make standards writers aware of how it is possible to make an effective contribution to environmental improvement through a product standard, and how to reduce potential adverse environmental impacts of products.

Through a helpful tool (the environmental checklist), the writer of product standards can assess the relevant product environmental aspects, based on the availability of environmental information, product and environmental knowledge and the application of life-cycle analysis.

Primarily intended for product standards writers, the objectives of ISO Guide 64:2008 are to:

  • outline the relationship between the provisions in product standards and the environmental aspects and impacts of the product
  • assist in drafting or revising provisions in product standards in order to reduce potential adverse environmental impacts at different stages of the entire product life-cycle
  • emphasize that taking into account environmental issues in product standards is a complex process and requires balancing competing priorities
  • recommend the use of life-cycle analysis when defining environmental provisions for a product for which a standard is being drafted, and
  • to promote the future development of relevant sector guides for addressing environmental issues in product standards by standards writers, consistent with the principles and approaches of this Guide.

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