Acidification Acidification is caused by acid depositions of three main pollutants: sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and ammonia (NH3). Acid depositions have negative impacts on water, forests, and soil as well as causing damage to buildings and monuments. The main sources of emissions of acidifying substances are fossil fuel combustion used for energy production and transport.
Brundtland Commission  The report Our common future (1987), put forward by the World Commission on Environment and Development, popularized the notion of sustainable development. The Commission was at that time chaired by the Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.
Carbon dioxide equivalent  A metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential (GWP). Carbon dioxide equivalents are commonly expressed as 'million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMTCDE)'. The carbon dioxide equivalent for a gas is derived by multiplying the tonnes of the gas by the associated GWP. MMTCDE = (million metric tonnes of a gas) * (GWP of the gas). For example, the GWP for methane is 21 and for nitrous oxide 310. This means that emissions of 1million metric tonnes of methane and nitrous oxide respectively is equivalent to emissions of 21 and 310 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide  Gas naturally produced by animals during respiration and through decay of biomass, and used by plants during photosynthesis. Although it only constitutes 0.04 percent of the atmosphere, it is one of the most important greenhouse gases. The combustion of fossil fuels is increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, which is believed to be contributing to global warming.
Cradle to grave  A "Cradle-to-grave" assessment considers impacts at each stage of a product's life-cycle, from the time natural resources are extracted from the ground and processed through each subsequent stage of manufacturing, transportation, product use, and ultimately, disposal.
DANTES DANTES is an acronym for Demonstrate and Assess New Tools for Environmental Sustainability
Design for Environment (DfE) Design for Environment (DfE) or Ecodesign are methods supporting product developers in reducing the total environmental impact of a product early in the product development process. This include reducing resource consumption as well as emissions and waste.
Eco-efficiency This means choosing the method for production, service, disposal or recovery that makes most ecological and economic sense, ensuring optimum conservation of resources, minimum emissions and waste and low overall costs. In summary: doing more with less.
Ecology The branch of science studying the interactions among living things and their environment
Eco-management and auditing scheme, EMAS Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, was adopted by the European Union in 1993. A Community scheme allowing voluntary participation by companies performing industrial activities, established for the evaluation and improvement of the environmental performance of industrial activities and the provision of the relevant information to the public. The objective of the scheme is to promote continuous improvements in the environmental performance of industrial activities by:
(a) the establishment and implementation of environmental policies, programs and management systems by companies, in relation to their sites;
(b) the systematic, objective and periodic evaluation of the performance of such elements;
(c) the provision of information of environmental performance to the public.
Environmental Aspect Element of an organization's activities, products or services that can interact with the environment.
Environmental assessment A detailed study of the reasonably foreseeable significant effects on the environment, beneficial as well as adverse, of a product, service or process. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) and Eco-efficiency are examples of environmental assessments.
Environmental effect Any direct or indirect effects of activities, products and services of an organization upon the environment, whether adverse or beneficial. An environmental effect/impact is the consequence of an environmental intervention in an environmental system.
Environmental impact assessment, EIA A technique used for identifying the environmental effects of development projects. As a result of Directive 85/337/EEC (as amended 1997), this is now a legislative procedure to be applied to the assessment of the environmental effects of certain public and private projects which are likely to have significant effects on the environment. An EIA requires a scooping study to be undertaken in order to focus the assessment. This can be carried out in the field or as a desk study depending on the nature/scale of the project.
Environmental impact  Impacts on human beings, ecosystems and man-made capital resulting from changes in environmental quality.
Environmental indicator  An environmental indicator can be a measurable feature or features that provide managerially and scientifically useful evidence of environmental and ecosystem quality or reliable evidence of trends in quality. Thus, environmental indicators must be measurable with available technology, scientifically valid for assessing or documenting ecosystem quality, and useful for providing information for management decisionmaking.

Indicators can be used to:

  • compare current conditions with desired performance,
  • show trends over time, to allow comparisons between different regions,
  • help judge the sustainability of current practices, and
  • define and publicise new standards and measures for assessing progress toward a sustainable future.
Environmental Management Systems, EMS Environmental Management Systems is a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impact and increase its operating efficiency.
Environmental Product Declaration, EPD Environmental Product Declaration, is a certified, standardized (ISO 14025/TR) and LCA based tool to communicate the environmental performance of a product or system.
Environmental risk Likelihood, or probability, of injury, disease, or death resulting from exposure to a potential environmental hazard.
Environmental Risk Assessment, ERA An environmental risk assessment (ERA) is a process of identifying and evaluating the adverse effects on the environment caused by a chemical substance. An environmental exposure to the chemical is predicted and compared to a predicted no-effect concentration, supplying risk ratios for different media.
EU LIFE- Environment program LIFE-Environment program finances actions which aim to implement the Community policy and legislation on the environment in the European Union and candidate countries.
External cost  An external cost is a cost not included in the market price of the goods and services being produced, i.e. a cost not borne by those who create it.
Global warming  Changes in the surface-air temperature, referred to as the global temperature, brought about by the greenhouse effect which is induced by emission of greenhouse gases into the air.
Greenhouse effect  Warming of the atmosphere due to the reduction in outgoing solar radiation resulting from concentrations of gases such as carbon dioxide.
Hazardous waste  A term applied to those wastes that because of their chemical reactivity, toxicity, explosiveness, corrosiveness, radioactivity or other characteristics, constitutes a risk to human health or the environment.
Integrated product policy  Integrated product policy (IPP) is an approach that begins by asking how the environmental performance of products can be improved most cost-effectively. It is founded on the consideration of the impacts of products throughout their life-cycle, from the natural resources from which they come, through their use and marketing to their eventual disposal as waste. It is also a relatively new approach to environmental policy.
Internalization of externalities  Incorporation of an externality into the market decision making process through pricing or regulatory interventions. In the narrow sense, internalization is achieved by charging polluters (for example) with the damage costs of the pollution generated by them, in accordance with the polluter pays principle.
ISO 14001 ISO standard on Environmental Management System, EMS.
Kyoto Protocol  The Kyoto Protocol was adopted at the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. It contains legally binding commitments, in addition to those included in the UNFCCC. Countries included in Annex B of the Protocol (most OECD countries and EITs) agreed to reduce their anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6) by at least 5 % below 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008 to 2012.
Life cycle assessment, LCA Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a process of evaluating the effects that a product has on the environment over the entire period of its life thereby increasing resource-use efficiency and decreasing liabilities. It can be used to study the environmental impact of either a product or the function the product is designed to perform. LCA is commonly referred to as a "cradle-to-grave" analysis. LCA's key elements are: (1) identify and quantify the environmental loads involved; e.g. the energy and raw materials consumed, the emissions and wastes generated; (2) evaluate the potential environmental impacts of these loads; and (3) assess the options available for reducing these environmental impacts.
Life cycle cost, LCC  The cost of a product or service over its entire life cycle.
Life cycle impact assessment, LCI A scientific technique for assessing the potential environmental impacts of industrial systems and their associated products. This technique is 'cradle-to-grave' in scope, meaning that it considers impacts at each stage of a product's life-cycle, from the time natural resources are extracted from the ground and processed through each subsequent stage of manufacturing, transportation, product use, and ultimately, disposal.
Life Cycle Initiative Life Cycle Initiative aim to develop and disseminate practical tools for evaluating the opportunities, risks, and trade-offs associated with products and services over their entire life cycle to achieve sustainable development.
Life Cycle Management  Life Cycle Management is a concept launched a few years ago. It is a business management concept based on life cycle considerations and it can be used in the development and application of sustainability strategies.
Life cycle  Consecutive and interlinked stages of a product system, from raw material acquisition or generation of natural resources to the final disposal.
Material recovery  Restoration of materials found in the waste stream to a beneficial use which may be for purposes other than the original use.
Non-renewable resource Minerals, oil, gas and coal. Their use as material and energy sources leads to depletion of the Earth's reserves as they do cannot be renewed in human relevant periods of time.
Ozone Ozone, the triatomic form of oxygen (O3), is a gaseous atmospheric constituent. In the troposphere, it is created both naturally and by photochemical reactions involving gases resulting from human activities (photochemical smog). In high concentrations, tropospheric ozone can be harmful to a wide range of living organisms. Tropospheric ozone acts as a greenhouse gas. In the stratosphere, ozone is created by the interaction between solar ultraviolet radiation and molecular oxygen (O2). Stratospheric ozone plays a decisive role in the stratospheric radiative balance. Depletion of stratospheric ozone, due to chemical reactions that may be enhanced by climate change, results in an increased ground-level flux of ultraviolet (UV-) B radiation.
Ozone depletion potential The integrated change in total ozone per unit mass emission of a specific compound, relative to the integrated change in the total ozone per unit mass of CFC-11.
Ozone-depleting substance A compound that contributes to stratospheric ozone depletion. Ozone-depleting substances (ODS) include CFCs, HCFCs, halons, methyl bromide, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform. ODS are generally very stable in the troposphere and only degrade under intense ultraviolet light in the stratosphere. When they break down, they release chlorine or bromine atoms, which then deplete ozone.
Performance indicator Performance indicators compare actual conditions with a specific set of reference conditions. They measure the "distance(s)" between the current environmental situation and the desired situation (target): distance to target assessment.
Policy-maker Individuals, especially those in official bodies, who have the authority to make decisions about which problems within a particular sector that are to be addressed and how these problems are to be handled.
Pro-active Acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.
Product Stewardship  Product Stewardship is "the responsible and ethical management of the health, safety and environmental aspects of a product throughout its total life cycle."
Recycling (1) A resource recovery method involving the collection and treatment of a waste product for use as raw material in the manufacture of the same or a similar product. (2) the EU waste strategy distinguishes between: reuse meant as a material reuse without any structural changes in materials; recycling meant as a material recycling, only, and with a reference to structural changes in products; and recovery meant as an energy recovery only.
Responsible Care A voluntary program developed by the chemical industry that helps it to raise its standards and win greater trust from the public. Under Responsible Care, the worldwide chemical industry is committed to continual improvement in all aspects of health, safety and environmental performance and to open communication about its activities and achievements.
Risk Expected losses (of lives, persons injured, property damaged and economic activity disrupted) due to a particular hazard for a given area and reference period. Based on mathematical calculations, risk is the product of hazard and vulnerability.
Risk assessment The procedure in which the risks posed by inherent hazards involved in processes or situations are estimated either quantitatively or qualitatively.
Risk management Process of evaluating alternative regulatory and non-regulatory responses to risk and selecting among them. The selection process necessarily requires the consideration of legal, economic and social factors.
Safety Data Sheet, SDS A Safety Data Sheet presents information on a product's health and environmental hazards. It provides information on safe handling, transportation, storage, physical data (e.g. boiling, melting, and flash point), toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, disposal, protective equipment, and spill/leak procedures.
Screening A process used within a project to determine whether more in depth environmental assessments are needed and the type and level of these assessments.
SETAC The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) is a nonprofit, worldwide professional society comprised of individuals and institutions engaged in:
  • the study, analysis, and solution of environmental problems
  • the management and regulation of natural resources
  • environmental education
  • research and development
SETAC's mission is to support the development of principles and practices for protection, enhancement and management of sustainable environmental quality and ecosystem integrity.

SETAC is the scientific body that developed the LCA methodology.

Stakeholder An institution, organization, or group that has some interest in a particular sector or system.
Strategies (DANTES use) Suggestions on how and when to use different sustainability tools for eco-efficiency evaluation. See methods, tools
Sustainability Performance Indicators, SPI Sustainability Performance Indicators, SPIs, are a limited number of key indicators used to find and keep track of the sustainability performance of e.g. projects, products or organizations. SPIs cover the economic , environmental (EPI) or social dimension of sustainability.
Sustainability/ Sustainable development The concept of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs (from Our common future, see Brundtland Commission above).  
The term was originally applied to natural resource situations in a long term perspective. Today, it applies to many disciplines, including economic development, environment, food production, energy, and social organization. Basically, sustainability/sustainable development refers to doing something with the long term in mind. Today's decisions are made with a consideration of sustaining our activities into the long term future.
Sustainable development indicator Indicator selected with the aim to provide information on the essence of sustainable development; it may refer to systemic characteristics such as carrying capacities of the environment, or it may refer to interrelations between economy, society and the environment.
Toxicity The degree to which a chemical substance elicits a deleterious or adverse effect upon the biological system of an organism exposed to the substance over a designated time period.
UNEP United Nations Environmental Program
Willingness to pay The amount an individual is willing to pay to acquire a product or service. This may be elicited from stated or revealed preference approaches.