Getting to grips with EPDs

Why obtaining an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a big deal

When it comes to transparently communicating the environmental performance or impact of any product, obtaining an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a big deal. We spoke to Bob Dirks, Global Segment Manager for our Powder Coatings (Architecture) business, and Sencan Kizilkaya, Global Product Manager for Powder Coatings (Architecture), to get the full story.

Bob Dirks

What is an EPD?

Bob: An EPD, or Environmental Product Declaration, is a comprehensive and standardized document that provides transparent and independently verified information about the environmental impact of a product throughout its entire lifecycle. It covers various lifecycle assessment stages, from raw material extraction to production, distribution, product use, disposal and recycling.

Sencan Kizilkaya

What makes it so significant?

Sencan: EPDs hold great significance as they enable us to communicate information transparently to our customers, based on the environmental performance of our powder coatings. EPDs contribute to obtaining green building certification credits, such as LEED (Materials and Resources) and BREEAM (Materials) certified building projects. We’re very proud in Powder Coatings to have EPDs for our Interpon D architectural coatings.

What does the verification involve, how are products assessed?


Bob: The verification process for EPDs involves a thorough evaluation by independent third-party LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) practitioners who specialize in lifecycle assessments and environmental analysis. These practitioners ensure the information presented is accurate, reliable and compliant with established standards and guidelines. Assessments cover various environmental factors, including global warming potential, water, material and energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions, resource depletion and waste generation.

How often is an EPD reviewed?

Sencan: EPDs undergo periodic reviews to ensure the accuracy and relevance of the information provided to meet industry needs. AkzoNobel is committed to upholding the highest standards of transparency and environmental responsibility. Therefore, we strive to review and renew our EPDs regularly, typically every five years or as required by industry practices and evolving sustainability guidelines. We’re proud that we were the first powder coatings company to provide an EPD in our industry in 2015, this was renewed in 2018. Our latest, published in mid-2023, will be valid for five years, which is in line with the EN15804+A2 norm for construction products. This norm harmonizes the structure for EPDs in the construction sector, making the information transparent and comparable.


Can customers compare EPDs?


Bob: In theory it’s possible, but in practice, you’ll very likely compare apples with pears. There are many aspects to consider. For example, they must be based on the same Product Category Rules (PCR), including the same version number, or be based on fully aligned PCRs or versions of PCRs. They must also cover products with identical functions, technical performances or use; have equivalent system boundaries (scope and cradle-to-gate); have equivalent content declarations; and be valid at the time of comparison. Furthermore, EPDs within the same product category – but registered in different EPD programs, or not compliant with EN15804 – may not be comparable.

How come there isn’t just one standard?

Sencan: The most up-to-date standard is EN15804+A2. This new A2 norm brings additional environmental impact categories. Since EPDs are valid for up to five years, comparing one EPD  with another requires attention to PCRs, as previously mentioned). In addition to the identical properties listed by Bob, methods of data collection, allocation methods, cut-off rules and impact assessment methods (including the same version of characterisation factors) have an impact on EPDs. Taking all of this into consideration, EPDs can slightly vary from another company’s EPDs.

Can you sum up why EPDs are so important for customers and AkzoNobel/Powder Coatings?

Bob: The EPD allows our customers to make informed choices aligned with their sustainability objectives, based on transparent and reliable third-party information. At the same time, the Powder Coatings business is fully aligned with the company’s sustainability goals – which are at the core of our business strategy. This includes carbon footprint reduction and environmental preservation. Our sustainability journey encompasses continuous learning, setting ambitious goals, fostering transparency through (among other parameters) EPDs, and implementing improvements to reduce our carbon footprint. By embracing these pillars, we empower positive change, fostering a more sustainable future.

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