Title: Consumer footprint: Basket of products indicator on household goods
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2019
JRC N°: JRC116120
ISBN: 978-92-76-01614-4 (online),978-92-76-01613-7 (print)
ISSN: 1831-9424 (online),1018-5593 (print)
Other Identifiers: EUR 29710 EN
OP KJ-NA-29710-EN-N (online),KJ-NA-29710-EN-C (print)
URI: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC116120
DOI: 10.2760/462368
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: The EU Consumer Footprint aims at assessing the potential environmental impacts due to consumption. The calculation of the Consumer footprint is based on the life cycle assessment (LCA) of representative products (or services) purchased and used in one year by an EU citizen. This report is about the subset indicator of the basket of product (BoP) on household goods. The BoP household goods is built to assess the impact associated to household goods in Europe, from raw material extraction to end of life. The reference flow is the amount of household goods purchased and used by an average citizen in a reference year. It consists of a process-based life cycle inventory model for a basket of products that represent the most relevant household goods product groups, selected by importance in mass and economic value. In total, 30 representative products were modelled, in the following product groups: detergents, rinse-off cosmetics, absorbent hygiene products, furniture, bed mattresses, footwear, textile products and paper products. The consumer footprint for the BoP household goods is assessed using 15 environmental impact categories as for the ILCD LCIA method and running a sensitivity for a number of impact categories with updated models. Results show that the most impacting life cycle stage for most to the overall impact is the manufacture of components (raw materials, ingredients or intermediate products) that are used to produce the final products. The product groups that emerge as hotspots in most of the impact categories are detergents, furniture, paper products and clothes. Those products are the ones that have a high impact intensity and that are consumed in large amounts in Europe. The step of impact normalization and equal weighting of impact categories highlights that the most relevant impacts of the BoP household occur in human toxicity (cancer and non-cancer effects), resource depletion (and especially fossil resources) and, to some extent, ionising radiation. The relative share of these categories varies according to the set of normalisation factors used (EU-27 or global references). The Consumer Footprint BoP household goods baseline has been assessed against 10 scenarios, referring to improvement options related to the main drivers of impact and acting on the most relevant product groups. Among the scenarios assessed, the options that allow for a higher reduction of impacts are the ones related to the use of less impacting electricity mixes in the production phase and to the reuse of products. Six scenarios were specifically aimed at assessing the impact of substituting some average products (namely liquid soap, shampoo, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent and upholstered seat) with products that are compliant with Ecolabel criteria. Results show that the environmental profile of Ecolabelled products is generally better than the one of the average products in the market. However, the effect that the choice of Ecolabelled products can have on the overall impact coming from purchase and use of household goods could be relatively limited and highly dependent on the share of Ecolabel products bought by European consumers. Regarding the role of consumers, the study showed that users' behaviour could have a relevant effect on the impact of household goods consumption. For instance, for detergents and personal care products, a relevant share of the improvement potential is related to a proper use by consumers (e.g. by saving water and energy and avoiding over dosing during the use phase). For this reason, promoting purchase of more sustainable products may be not sufficient, but it has to be accompanied with awareness campaigns promoting a more responsible consumption behaviour.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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