Did you ever notice the many different eco-labels on an office supply product like the packaging of post-its? Does it tell you that it is truly environmentally friendly in terms of (raw) material use, production, packaging, usage and end-of-life?
The “Sustainable Office European Association” (SOFEA) created a transparent, efficient and overarching rating system called SOFEA Assessment Scheme (SAS). This includes all relevant internationally-recognised eco-labels and the needs of the industry. It provides the necessary sustainable product data to facilitate a significant change with regard to both market demand and supply. It will provide complementary methods (hotspot analysis from the LCA) for the EU PEF (Product Environmental Footprint), a pilot project from the European Commission.
As the office supplies sector tends to become more digital (with regard to the use of paper), the SAS aims to be an evolving and flexible system, extendable beyond the traditional office supplies market and adaptable to progressing standards. It aims to be a transparent tool that is open to the participating organisations and other stakeholders.
In this project, SOFEA will demonstrate the SAS that will assess the sustainability / eco-efficiency of three different product category groups: filing (binders), writing instruments and notebooks. Taking into account the legal framework and EU-guidelines on public procurement, a public procurement process will be started in which the SAS/rating system is included. By informing the market about the (minimum) standard of the product(s) they want to procure, public authorities – as “launching users of the SAS/rating system” – will create an impact on the eco-efficiency of the products they need. Public authorities are selected as first users as they procure office supplies from the market in substantial volumes.
First a baseline will be determined to learn what the environmental impact of the current office supplies of the different governments is. After determining that, the office supplies used, will be scored with the programme developed by SOFEA. This insight will be used to adopt procurement policy. After the adoption of the procurement policy the environmental impact will be measured again and compared with the impact without using SAS.