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Definition of the methodology for a Sector EPD (Environmental Product Declaration): case study of the average Italian cement



The objective of this paper is to describe the process of development of an appropriate methodology for a type III label that can be used by a trade association, namely “Sector Environmental Product Declaration” (EPD). The study starts from the definition of required data, data collection procedures, sample selection criteria etc. With this aim, the application of the scheme on a case study has been conducted, regarding the cement production in Italy.


The methodology has been selected coherently with the requirements of the International EPD® system. The basis for the definition of the methodology of the study was the document Product Category Rules 2004:01 for the Product Group “Cement”. Since these rules were prepared before the introduction of the International EPD® system, the guidelines have been refined in order to suit the revised programme instructions, whose spectrum includes the innovative case of the Sector EPD.

Results and discussion

A pre-inventory analysis, aimed to the sample selection for the case study presented, has been conducted. The elements influencing the selection of plants and products were geographical position of plants and eventual company/group affiliation, plant productivity, process technology type, fuels and raw materials use and product typology. Seven plants have been identified. The environmental impacts are referred to the production of 1 ton of representative average cement. “Representative” is referred to the selection of the panel of typical cement plants, whilst “average” refers to data source. In particular, for every selected plant, the analysis has yielded the results related to an average cement, including all the typologies there produced; then, the average profile is derived. It can be remarked that the relative contribution of the different life cycle phases remains almost unchanged for every impact category. Apart from waste production, the distribution appears rather uniform. The amount of clinker results as the main potential source of variation for the impacts, as regards the different cement typologies.


It can be concluded that a targeted analysis of the sample representativeness is required to support the robustness of the selection in view of the successive verification process. The incoming revision of the Product Category Rules, in order to extend the application spectrum to product-type declarations, will enable the compilation of the life cycle assessment results presented in this paper in a Sector EPD for the case study.

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Correspondence to Carlo Strazza.

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Strazza, C., Del Borghi, A., Blengini, G.A. et al. Definition of the methodology for a Sector EPD (Environmental Product Declaration): case study of the average Italian cement. Int J Life Cycle Assess 15, 540–548 (2010).

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  • Cement
  • Environmental Product Declaration
  • ISO 14025
  • ISO 14040
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Sector EPD
  • Trade association
  • Type III label