Guidance for product category rule development: Process, outcome, and next steps

  • Ingwersen W
  • Subramanian V
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Purpose The development of product category rules (PCRs) is inconsistent among the programoperators using ISO14025 as the basis. Furthermore, the existence of several other prod- uct claim standards and specifications that require analogous rules for making product claims has the potential to reduce any consistency in PCRs present in the ISO 14025 domain and result in unnecessary duplication of PCRs. These incon- sistencies and duplications can be attributed to (a) insufficient specificity in related standards, (b) the presence of several standards and specifications, (c) lack of/limited coordination among program operators, and (d) lack of a single global database for PCRs. As a result, current PCR development threatens the legitimacy of life cycle assessment-based prod- uct claims. Process Through discussions over the past few years, in multistakeholder organizations, it has become clear that more guidance on the development of PCRs is necessary. In re- sponse to this need, the Product Category Rule Guidance Development Initiative ( was launched as an independent multistakeholder effort in early 2012. The premise for the Initiative was that the Guidance would be created by a voluntary group of international stakeholders that would share ownership of the outputs. Outcome The Guidance is now published, along with supple- mentary materials, on the Initiative website. The guidance document specifies requirements, recommendations, and op- tions on (1) steps to be taken before PCR creation; (2) ele- ments of a PCR; (3) review, publication, and use of PCRs; and (4) best practices for PCR development and management. Supplementary materials include a PCR template, a confor- mity assessment form, and a list of program operators from around the world. Conclusions The Guidance will help reduce cost and time to develop a PCR by supporting the adaptation of an existing PCRorbybuildingonelementsfromexistingPCRs. It will help reduce confusion and frustration when creating PCRs that are based on one or more standards and programs. Overall, the Guidance is a robust handbook for consistency and clarity in the development of PCRs.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Alignment
  • Environmental product declarations
  • Product category rules
  • Product claims
  • Product footprints

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  • Wesley W. Ingwersen

  • Vairavan Subramanian

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