Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Tone Skårdal Tobiasson
What is the ‘functional unit’ of a winter coat, or a pair of boots? The ‘functional unit’ is a central concept for lifecyle assessment (LCA) based tools. In the ongoing work on the European Union’s (EU) PEFCR (Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules), this is based on the number of days of ‘usability’.
Let’s explore what this means. A ‘functional unit’ is perhaps most easily explained in terms of paint, in terms of how long a certain paint will keep the walls protected and good looking, but how does that translate to apparel?
The EU has decided that the functional unit for a winter coat – or a pair of boots – is 100 days of use. This is the expected usability (functional unit) you can expect to gain from a product before it needs replacing or repairing. So far, so good.