21 May 2023

Development of the EU Environmental Footprint datasets 

Publication of EF 3.1 and start of EF 4.0

For more than 10 years Blonk has been closely involved in the EU Environmental Footprint (PEF) initiative. Currently, we’re part of a consortium (together with PRé sustainability, Carbon Minds, TCO2 Co Ltd and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) that is working on the Environmental Footprint 4.0 (EF 4.0) life cycle inventory datasets. These datasets contain official secondary data and are designed to support EF-compliant calculations according to the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) and Organizational Environmental Footprint Category Rules (OEFCRs). 
Together with the other consortium partners Blonk will provide various EF-compliant core datasets on energy, transport, packaging, end of life, metals and minerals, chemicals, food/feed products and bio-based materials.

Recently, Blonk has published EF 3.1 datasets on feed, agrofood and  biobased materials.   

Development of the EF 4.0 datasets

The EF 4.0 project contains a total of at least 3.200 secondary datasets. Blonk is responsible for the collection and creation of 953 datasets related to Food & Feed and bio-based materials. Furthermore, the EF 4.0 datasets, unlike the earlier developed EF-compliant datasets, will likely become publicly available (to be expected in 2026). Currently the datasets are freely available for the companies if you are conducting PEF or OEF studies as defined in the PEFCRs and OEFSRs, after 2026 the datasets are expected to be freely available for all companies.

SMEs will benefit from EF 4.0

Until today EF-compliant datasets have been developed under the lead of the European Commission, but the use is limited to official pilots and projects that are part of the EF Pilot and Transition phase.  Now that more and more policies are or will be relying on or referring to the EF methods, it is important that high-quality secondary datasets become more widely available This is especially relevant for SME’s for whom performing EF-compliant LCA studies might otherwise be too much of a financial burden.

Furthermore, making core background datasets publicly available will ensure that environmental performance comparisons between similar products in the value chain use the same background datasets. Otherwise, the variability in performance might be caused by those background datasets instead of company- or supplier-specific data, reducing the comparability of claims.

The IP of the EF 4.0 datasets will be acquired by the European Commission. This will lead to benefits for companies:

  • For companies who want to start with PEF, this probably leads to cost reductions.
  • More harmonization opportunities and more enforcing power by the European Commission.

Publication of the EF 3.1 datasets

Blonk has comprehensive data for food, feed and biobased materials and has been providing data on such products to the EF system already in the EF Pilot and Transition phases.

Recently, Blonk has provided 753 EF 3.1 datasets on feed (in 5 different formats), 226 datasets on agrofood and 216 on biobased materials. The 5 feed dataset formats are: unit process-single operation, system process, LCI result, foreground elementary flows and life cycle models (extended ILCD = eILCD). The life cycle models are a recent addition to the ILCD format, making it upgraded to the eILCD format. The EF 3.1 Feed datastock is one of the few data stocks already available in the eILCD format. Other data stocks will be upgraded to eILCD format in the coming year. With an eILCD format the data is much more technically connected, allowing more options for use.
The existing datasets (EF 2.0) were updated and additional datasets were created, in close cooperation with industry partners, such as European industry associations, to fill in any data gaps. In the development of EF-compliant datasets, Blonk relies on its extensive Agri-footprint database, a Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) database focused on the agri-food sector.

Why are these datasets important?

The EF 3.1 datasets play an important role in providing companies with background datasets when developing their company or product PEFs. Furthermore, it will be one of the most comprehensive LCI databases in the world, developed with harmonized and state-of-the-art data and methodology.

Get the EF 3.1 datasets

 You may use the Environmental Footprint database 3.1 free of charge if you are conducting PEF or OEF studies exclusively under the approved product groups and sectors, which have been approved (developed or updated) during the EF transition phase and as defined in the PEFCRs and OEFSRs, and in accordance with the End User License Agreements of all database providers.

  • The complete EF 3.1 datasets are available for free and can be downloaded from Blonk’s EF node.
  • The datasets in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) software SimaPro are available through PRé Sustainability and can be downloaded from the SimaPro website.
  • Feed datasets in eILCD format are available in Blonk’s EF node of the European Commission.

About the Environmental Footprint Initiative

The Environmental Footprint (EF) is an initiative of the European Commission, establishing a common methodological approach for quantifying the environmental performance of any good throughout its lifecycle. The EF development started in 2013 and is part of the European Commission’s Single Market for Green Products Initiative. The EF builds on existing approaches and international standards related to the calculation of environmental impacts, such as ISO 14040 series and the European International Life Cycle Data system (ILCD) guidelines. The purpose of the EF initiative is to provide information that can enable the reduction of environmental impacts of goods, services, and organizations while considering all value chain activities. The EF initiative consists of Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and Organization Environmental Footprint (OEF), both LCA-based methods. Currently the EF project is in the transition phase, which aims to provide a framework for monitoring the implementation of existing PEFCRs and OEFCRs, development of new PEFCRs and OEFCRs and new methodological developments.

Blonk’s involvement in the EF initiative over the years

Over the past years Blonk has been closely involved in the EU EF initiative. We were involved in the development of the Feed PEFCR, which was the first PEFCR to be officially approved, and Beer PEFCR. For Growing Media Europe Blonk developed a shadow . We are currently updating the PEFCR: Prepared Pet Food for Cats and Dogs. Besides that, Blonk has provided various PEF-compliant datasets and is a member of the Technical Advisory Board (in both pilot as transition phase) and several PEF working groups. Currently, next to the development of the EF 4.0 datasets, Blonk is also involved in the development of the Flower PEFCR.


Feed PEFCR first to be approved by the European Commission

We are happy and very proud to announce that the PEFCR ‘Feed for Food Producing Animals’ was approved by a large majority at the Environmental Footprint Steering Group meeting in Brussels on 15 February 2018. The feed PEFCR (Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules) is the first PEFCR to be officially approved by the European Commission. This is an important step forward for the environmental footprinting of feed production.

More about the PEF

Product Environmental Footprint

Measuring environmental sustainability of products is a big challenge. There exist many labels, which currently confuses consumers en producers. Therefore, the European Commission proposed to develop a standard method for measuring and communicating environmental performance throughout the life cycle. Over the last years the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) method has been developed. Since 2015 Blonk has been involved intensively in the EU PEF developments:


Beer PEFCR approved by the European Commission

Earlier we announced that the Feed PEFCR (the first PEFCR) has been approved by the European Commission. On 20 April 2018 the Beer PEFCR was also given the green light, following four years hard work by all the partners to develop a single European standard for the beer sector. It makes it possible to calculate the environmental footprint of beer in a clear and consistent way.

Related database


Advancing sustainability in the agri-food sector requires accurate and precise information. Blonk developed the Agri-footprint database to provide a thorough and consistent life cycle inventory (LCI) database for the agriculture and food sector. The database is widely used and implemented by the food industry, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) community, the scientific community, and governments worldwide.

More information

Get in touch

Marcelo Tyszler
Head of Data Science and Data Innovation

Do you have questions about the EF 3.1 datasets, or are you interested in the development of EF-compliant environmental datasets and databases, please get in touch with Marcelo