Green procurement practices have received a boost with the introduction of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) that help differentiate products for better clarity.

A published EPD is an independently verified and registered document that communicates transparent and comparable information about the environmental impact of a product through its entire life cycle. This data is collected using the internationally recognised life cycle assessment methodology and ISO 14025 principles and procedures. An EPD provides relevant information from raw material extraction to final disposal, analysing and reporting on a product’s whole value chain.

Businesses can gain from having access to EPDs of specified products. By understanding the embodied energy and impact of the product being procured, the business can reduce the risk of any unexpected surprises, protect the reputation of their brand, and make the right choices. For instance, businesses aiming to reduce their Scope 3 GHG emissions can use EPDs to identify products produced using high percentages of renewable energy to reduce their carbon footprint in their supply chain. 

Decision makers in the Green Procurement segment use EPDs as an immediate, reliable and quantitative way to evaluate a product. With information such as embodied energy, global warming potential, use of natural resources, emissions to air, soil and water, and waste generation all available for review, an EPD provides an unprecedented level of transparency, changing the environmental assessment landscape forever.

The construction industry in Australasia is seeing more and more requests for products with EPDs through tenders. The popular toilet paper and hand towel products from the Tork Professional Hygiene range have become the first hygiene products with EPDs in Australasia.

That Tork is leading the way is not surprising, given parent company Asaleo Care’s commitment to being a sustainable business with transparent and open communications about environmental practices.

According to Sid Takla, Executive General Manager B2B at Tork’s parent company Asaleo Care, they were drawn to EPDs because of their transparency, credibility and ability to speak to the product's entire life cycle. EPDs for tissue products are unique in the Australian and New Zealand markets, and unlike their competitors, they have both quantified their environmental impacts and disclosed this information publicly for a range of products. He added that EPDs will also allow them to identify hot spots within their value chain so that improvements can be made to reduce impact.

The life cycle assessment of Tork Conventional Toilet Paper identifies the product as having been produced with 70 percent renewable energy. This has been achieved through the direct use of geothermal steam in the paper making process and also due to New Zealand’s high proportion of renewable energy within the grid. The raw materials are additionally sourced from 100 percent responsibly managed forests.

The EPDs were produced for Asaleo Care by thinkstep Australasia, a company operating in the sustainability market for over 20 years and working with roughly 40 percent of the Fortune Global 500 companies.

Image: Environmental Product Declaration for Toilet Tissue