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Update on International Standards Development

ISO standards and the work of Standards Australia National Mirror Committee EV-005

Amendment to ISO 14044

ISO Technical Committee 207 undertakes standardization in the field of environmental management systems and tools in support of sustainable development. Life cycle assessment standards are the responsibility of Sub-committee 5 and most ALCAS members will be familiar with the core standards ISO14040 and 14044 published in 2006.

ISO 14044 is currently the subject of an amendment that largely concerns the addition of a normative annex on the quantification of footprints. While separate ISO documents cover the quantification of carbon footprints (ISO/TS14067) and water footprints (ISO14046), this amendment to ISO14044 will have general applicability to all footprints based on the LCA approach that cover environmental subjects.

In July, the responsible Working Group (SC5/WG11) met via teleconference and resolved outstanding comments on the Draft Amendment. The document is now being prepared as a Final Draft Amendment (FDAM) for final international ballot. This will be considered by Standards Australia National Mirror Committee EV-005.

This is an important amendment. Having general requirements for the quantification of footprints avoids the need to develop separate ISO documents for every different type of footprint that may be used in future. The amendment is short, only a few pages long, but introduces important new technical definitions for “Footprint” and “Area of Concern”. The requirements for footprint quantification are largely the same as those for life cycle assessment, without, most notably, application of the principle of comprehensiveness as individual footprints address only one environmental concern (such as GHG emissions or water scarcity, etc.)

Items for future work in SC5

Recently, a new Task Group (SC5/TG1) was established to explore the scope of potential new work items on the following topics A) Weighting and aggregation, B) Guidelines for interpretation and using results in decision-making, C) Allocation procedures. These topics include the major issues raised by the Australian LCA community in an earlier call for comments from ALCAS members, so this is a very pleasing outcome. More information will be shared with ALCAS members as it becomes available.

New ISO standard on footprint communication

TC207/SC3 (Environmental labelling) works alongside SC5. For the past few years, this SC has been developing a document on footprint communication that is expected to be used alongside the amendment of ISO14044 on footprint quantification. This new document is at the stage of being prepared as a Final Draft International Standard (ISO/FDIS14026) for ballot and publication shortly thereafter if the ballot is successful. This document will cover the communication of all kinds of footprints, including carbon footprints, as the communication aspects of ISO/TS14067 are being removed as part of its revision. ISO14026 will expand the suite of ISO documents on environmental labelling:

14020: General principles

14021: Self-declared claims

14024: Eco-labels

14025: EPDs

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