Sustainable Footprint Standards
Explained

The GSES Score recognizes and aligns other standards, frameworks and certificates that are internationally accepted. The GSES Score on product, service or project level consists of three levels of impact, being three types of international footprint standards:

These footprint standards give a comprehensive picture of the sustainability performance of products and projects. Examples of products are:

  • Consumer goods, building materials, clothing, nutritional products, luxury goods, electronics, etc.
  • Services where material is used, i.e. cleaning, delivery of goods (packaging), products as a service such as office furniture, etc.

Examples of projects are:

  • Construction and infrastructure projects, e.g. new buildings or renovations of bridges, roads, buildings, housing, work and living environments.

For more extensive information on the Sustainable Footprint Standards and certification processes, please download the dedicated GSES handbook

Health Footprint

The impact of products on health

The Health Footprint (HF) is focused on the product and production process. The KPIs are aimed at the hazardousness to health and environment of used substances, during the production and usage phase of a product. The HF is based on existing chemical substance regulation and additional restricted substances lists per sector. In de HF the existence hazardous substances are counted. Exposure routes are no part of this certification. The existence of hazardous substances above threshold in a component of a product will hold the certification.

The measurement of the Health footprint is based in de Bill of Material and contents of each component. This can be based on ingredient list, recipe or a laboratorial test, if ingredients are unknown.

Standards

The Health Footprint takes into account:

  1. Toxic substances (LEED, REACH),
  2. GMO,
  3. Pesticides,
  4. Bill of Material substance list and in research:
  5. CMR (carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic for reproduction) substances,
  6. Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) 

The Health Footprint score and certificates:

For HF the following items of certification apply

The Evironmental Footprint

The impact of products on the environment 

The ‘Environmental Footprint’ (EF) determines the environmental impact (including emissions to the environment and energy and raw material consumption) and the life cycle of a product or project. The EF is based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method. The LCA covers the chain of extraction of raw materials, transport, production, use and disassembly processes, and the removal, recycling and disposal of the materials used. The LCA with its validation classification can be displayed on the Sustainable Footprint Scorecard if an LCA has been established using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method.

Standards

The LCA method is based on the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards supplemented by LCA standards for certain product categories (PCRs, Product Category Rules). Furthermore, the EF aims to be fully in line with the development of the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint (PEF).

The Environmental Footprint method is a generic method applicable to all sectors for relevant products and projects. The establishment of an EF revolves around the Bill of Material (BoM) on the GSES platform. With basic information, an LCA expert can start the remainder of the assessment.

The Environmental Footprint score and certificates:

Certification of the EF score comes with the obligation to obtain the EF certification within 2 years. This will give an even more complete picture of the sustainability performance. In addition to the EF certification, there is also the obligation to ensure company-wide circularity (CE block of organizational GSES Score) within 2 years.

The Circular Footprint

Explanation of Circular Footprint

The Circular Footprint (CF) focuses entirely on the use of materials in a product and its circular performance. The calculation method is based on both material usage (input side) and post-use processing (output side). The calculation in weight does not take into account the specific flow of material. The circular performance of the input and output side result in a circularity score.

With the CF, the Sustainable Footprint Standard of GSES allows for a pragmatic start for calculating and certifying a circularity score for products. Hence, it fills a gap because there is no standard / calculation method for the circularity of products yet.

The Circular Footprint is based on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (Circular Indicators, An Approach to Measuring Circularity) and Cradle-to-Cradle (Material Reutilization), but goes a few steps beyond that. For instance, the Circular Footprint is scalable, generic and overarching. The distinction between components in the supply chain and the product/project itself, makes it possible to determine the circularity index in complex chains. The Circular Footprint method takes into account:

  1. Scalability,
  2. Production waste/loss,
  3. Renewable resources,
  4. Recycled content,
  5. Recycle passport,
  6. Evidence based, i.a. purchase receipts,

The Circular Footprint method is a generic method applicable to all sectors for relevant products and projects.

Standards

The exact existing standards the Circular Footprint Standard is based on:

  • MCI index of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
  • Cradle to Cradle standard
  • Platform Circulair Bouwen (CB) ’23 standard (Circular Construction ’23 standard)
  • Meetmethodiek losmaakbaarheid (method for calculating separation index), Dutch Green Building Counsel (DGBC), nov 2019

The following aspects are taken into account in a quantitative analysis:

  • Input side: use of recycled, biological and reclaimed materials.
  • Output side: effective recycling/reclaiming and the possibility of composting biological material.
  • Separation index: the ability to separate parts or materials after use to make refurbishment, re-use or material mono-streams possible

The following aspects are taken into account in a qualitative analysis:
The following aspects are additional CF-indicators and/or are taken into account at an organizational level by means of the GSES CE block or as an informative statement:

  • Use of scarce materials
  • Product lifespan
  • Circular business strategy
  • Improvement strategy
The Circular Footprint score and certificates:

Certification of the CF score comes with the obligation to obtain the EF certification within 2 years. This will give an even more complete picture of the sustainability performance. In addition to the EF certification, there is also the obligation to ensure company-wide circularity (CE pillar) within 2 years.

In order to do so, the company must certify circularity management within the GSES System by means of the Circular Economy pillar at an organizational level, which is based on BS 8001. The CE block at organizational level includes circular business models, raw material procurement, supply chain transparency with regard to CE. For this block, see the GSES handbook.

 

Open source and continuous improvement

The CF is in a standardization phase. It is linked to international developments in the field of measuring circularity and input from all industries and sectors so that the latest insights and findings are taken into account.

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