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Making Sense of the Minefield of Footprint Indicators

  • Published on February 18, 2015
In recent years, footprint indicators have emerged as a popular mode of reporting environmental performance. The prospect is that these simplified metrics will guide investors, businesses, public sector policymakers and even consumers of everyday goods and services in making decisions which lead to better environmental outcomes. However, without a common “DNA”, the ever expanding lexicon of footprints lacks coherence and may even report contradictory results for the same subject matter. In the European Union, the proliferation of inconsistent footprint methodologies has been identified as the underlying issue hampering the functioning of a market for green products.5 The benefits of harmonization are many: reduced implementation costs for business, avoidance of market access barriers, a common basis for industry to seek out resource efficiency opportunities with supply chain partners, and increased consumer understanding and confidence that footprint communications are trustworthy.5 The solution we propose is the development of a coherent set of footprint indicators based on LCA.

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