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Meeting with the Beijing EPD helpdesk

In February 2015 a new helpdesk function was launched in Beijing, China. The helpdesk will assist local companies and other stakeholders in understanding environmental product declarations, participate in the development of Product Category Rules and much more.

We met Xu Min at the Beijing helpdesk and asked about the recently started activities.

What is your role for the EPD system in China?
I am in charge of the management for the International EPD System Beijing helpdesk, including answering questions received regarding EPD, collecting information about the EPD development in China, planning the promotion activities for the International EPD System, etc.

What type of questions do you get about EPDs in China?
Life Cycle Assessement (LCA), the foundation for EPD, is still very limited developed in China. It is said the actor for LCA promotion in China is about 200 in total (including different types of government organizations), mostly based in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The active number is very limited compared with the big area of the country. And the database for LCA development is very limited as well.

On the other hand, lots of foreign companies are working to promote industry LCA in China, e.g. Novozymes worked together with China Cleaning Industry Association to implemented LCA for concentrated detergent in 2014.

Chinese have no intent to promote EPD at the current stage, the "Green Product" promoted by the government is based on the Type I and Type II environmental labeling system (EPD belongs to type III environmental labeling). Enterprises that get the Type I and Type II environmental labeling in China take cautious attitutude towards EPD, because the declaration will disclosure the pollutants emission data, which will be "bad" for the company in their opinion.

What is the current status of EPDs in the China?
Most enterprises in China do not have a good understanding of EPD, neither the LCA. There is so-called type III environmental labeling in Chinese Market, since as early as 2003. But those labelings did not using Lifecycle Assessement at all.

Some government organization and research institutes had implemented a national research project (2008-2010) trying to set up the Chinese type III environmental labeling system, but without actual progress. To get a better standing in the merchandise exports (espcially to EU) is the main drive for EPD in China currently. Some big companies in China has already started EPD activity by themselves,

EPD is still at the very beginning stage in China, even though there are some practices done/on-going. The EPD promotion in China should work together/cooperate with the promotion of LCA in China. And it shall be simplified to the extent that companies can easily understand the benefits and opportunities of this system, clear case illustrations to show how companies can be involved in the process .

What’s your vision for the Chinese market about EPD?
Though EPD still at the very beginning stage. So a true independent and public third party could be very helpful for managing the complicated situation, which can serve as a leadership.

The International EPD system is the first one in the world, and it is independent and creditable. The programme operator is only in charge of the registration system management and promotion, any capable certificate companies could involve in its development.