The Spanish ceramic tile industry adopts sector-wide EDP

Clay Technology magazine
26 Sep 2019

The Spanish ceramic tile industry has adopted a sector-wide Environmental Product Declaration to highlight product sustainability. Idha Valeur reports.

The Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Association (ASCER) has developed an Environmental Product Declaration (EDP) label to identify the sustainability of ceramic tiles in Spain.

The EPD sets out information to customers about the environmental impacts of a product through its life-cycle. EPDs have already been implemented in several countries including Germany, Italy and North America.

ASCER Responsable del Área de Medio Ambiente, Victoria Zaera, told Clay Technology that at present there are 60 product-specific EPDs in Spain and one industry-wide EPD.

‘During the last decade, construction products in general and ceramic tiles have detected a growing demand for environmental information by different interest stakeholders, such as public authorities, prescribers and customers in general. In addition, regulatory instruments such as the European Building Materials Regulation No 305/2011 also called for the provision of environmental information in addition to technical information such as the efficient use of resources,’ Zaera said.

‘In this context, and specifically in the case of the Spanish ceramic tile sector since 2007, numerous initatives have been carried out by ASCER to help Spanish ceramic tile companies respond to the different demands for environmental product information. These initiatives culminated in 2018 with the drafting of a sectorial EPD.’

Zaera explained that the Type Three declaration system will ‘communicate the environmental behaviour of products by following a standardised, transparent, objective and more easily achievable methodology’.

How EPDs work

To create the system, the sector prepared a sectorial lifecycle analysis (LCA) study of ceramic tiles where member companies from ASCER and the Institute of Ceramic Technology (ICT) contributed inventory data. With the contributing companies representing approximately 40% of the Spanish ceramic tile production, the LCA is regarded as a representative for the sector. The data provided enabled access to obtain environmental and energy indicators – making it possible to enhance the necessary information and so create individual EPDs.

‘EPDs do not offer criteria on the environmental preference of a product nor do they establish minimum requirements to be met. However, studying a product in-depth always leads to the detection of improvement alternatives,’ Zaera said.

She added that normally an independent third-party verifies all the information included in an EPD, which should contain data on the product’s environmental impact from production throughout its lifecycle. ‘In order for the EPDs carried out by different manufacturers to be consistent, it is essential that they follow the same guidelines on how to apply the LCA methodology. These guidelines are the product category rules (PCR),’ she said.

How to get the declaration

Before companies can receive an EPD for a product, it has to go through the process of providing extensive environmental information on the starting data. By using the provided information, the LCA is carried out based on the PCRs of the specific products. The result of the LCA is conveyed in the form of an EPD. This is then ‘verified by a third-party and registered in a system of EPDs such as the AENOR GlobalEPD system in Spain or the International EPD System,’ Zaera explained further.

The EPD that ASCER endorses is already applied in Norway, Canada, Japan, France and Germany, among others, and will also be valid in Denmark and Italy in the near future.

EPDs and the LCA study are part of a wider focus on sustainability. One of the most recent projects ASCER supports, FONDRYTILE, looks at valorisation of iron foundry sands and dust in the production process of ceramic tiles with the overarching aim to assist in the implementation of waste framework directive.