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Commission DGs prepare for IPP Green Paper

The European Commission's Directorates-General XI (Environment) and III (Industry) are collaborating to prepare a Green Paper on Integrated Product Policy (IPP) by the third quarter of 1999. IPP is a relatively new area of environmental policy. It looks at the whole life cycl...

The European Commission's Directorates-General XI (Environment) and III (Industry) are collaborating to prepare a Green Paper on Integrated Product Policy (IPP) by the third quarter of 1999. IPP is a relatively new area of environmental policy. It looks at the whole life cycle of products with the aim of reducing their environmental impacts. This contrasts more traditional environmental policies which focus on production-related measures and 'end of pipe' technologies. DG XI has already conducted a study on IPP together with the consultants Ernst and Young and the University of Sussex in the UK. They investigated the major issues related to IPP and the ways of developing a framework for future developments at the Commission level. It also gave an overview of recent IPP initiatives in selected Member States. Details of this study are available via: URL: http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg11/ipp/home.htm Also, in December 1998, DG XI and DG III joined to organize a workshop on IPP in Brussels. The event aimed to initiate a brainstorming session on the definitions, objectives and priorities for the development of an integrated product policy in the Community. Although a definition of IPP is not yet agreed, the concept has two main characteristics: - It covers all product systems and their environmental effects, while taking a lifestyle perspective as the lead principle. In this context, it is as important to avoid shifting environmental problems between different media during the production process (integrated pollution control) as it is to avoid shifting environmental problems between the various stages within the life cycle of a product; - It must consider and involve all relevant stakeholders along the product chain. Some of the preliminary conclusion's from the workshop are: - The Commission needs to further communicate and explain the value of IPP; - IPP should be a framework under the umbrella of Sustainable Development with long term objectives based on existing environmental priorities (such as climate change and the fifth action programme); - The root of IPP is the life-cycle approach or life-cycle thinking. This is different from life-cycle assessment, which is only one of the tools that may be used to implement IPP; - The role of stakeholders is fundamental: the approach should be clearly communicated, stakeholders should participate from the early stages onwards and the allocation of stakeholders responsibilities should be clarified; - The instrument used to implement IPP should be flexible and chosen in a case by case basis among a broad range of instruments; - The greening of products standards is an important issue; - Labeling should be broadened to include Type I, II, and III labels in a complementary system; - IPP should be linked to sustainable consumption, in particular it should address consumption patterns; - Services need to be considered in IPP. These conclusions will be taken into consideration when DG XI and III draw up their Green Paper. A report of the workshop is available via the web address above.