Organizing a global PCR database for GEDnet

For non-profit organization GEDNET, an association that fosters worldwide information exchange, PRé created a global database of product category rules. The main benefits of this are cost reduction and increased traceability of data.


GEDnet, a non-profit association of environmental declaration organizations and practitioners, wanted to organize all (roughly 500) product category rules (PCR), created by roughly 25 program operators around the world, into a single database. The absence of a single global database, along with the growing number of PCRs, causes several interconnected problems. Issues of concern include unnecessary duplicate PCRs, increasingly costly PCRs and EPDs, and decreased traceability of PCRs. This pilot study seeks to create a global searchable database for PCRs to eliminate these problems and set a more unified path for the future. 


The creation of a global PCR database was accomplished in two steps. First, PCRs from both the Japanese Environmental Management for Industry as well as the the International EPD System (IES) were integrated into a database. The second step involved finding program operators in North America in order to establish the number of PCRs, both published and and under development. Then the PCRs were integrated into the global database.

The United Nations Central Product Classification System (UN CPC) was chosen as the product classification system for the database because many PCRs, especially those from IES, already utilized this classification.

PRé found that the majority of already existing PCRs were for commonly used consumer goods belonging to the following three product categories: (1) Food products, beverages, tobacco; textiles, apparel and leather products, (2) Other transportable goods, excluding metal products, machinery and equipment, and (3) Metal products, machinery, and equipment. When mapping PCRs, the following was evident:

  • The scope of a single PCR partially aligned with the scope of one relevant product category defined in the product classification system. Example: Pavement Preservation Products.
  • The scope of a single PCR partially aligned with the scope of several product categories defined in the product classification system. Example: Packaged Single Entrée.
  • The scope of a single PCR completely aligns with several product categories defined in the product classification system. Example: Flooring and Building Envelope Thermal Insulation.


Working with PRé, GEDnet discovered the following value-driven benefits:

  • The need to establish a robust conversion matrix across different product classification systems, to ensure the viability of a single PCR database.
  • Identification of duplicate PCRs across several programs, signifiying opportunities for collaboration between various program operators.
  • Identification of industry sectors which are active, inactive, and those that are prime for encouragement to enter the EPD field.
  • Recognition of the need to include PCRs under development in the global PCR database, to avoid duplicity, and to provide opportunity for collaboration.
  • Recognition of the importance of formalizing relationships with all program operators in order to maintain an up-to-date database.

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