Product Category Rules (PCR) - Rare-Earth Concentrates, Oxides, Metals, and Magnets

What is Product Category Rules (PCR)?

The Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA), which provides a comprehensive, quantitative evaluation of the environmental impact of a product or service across its entire life cycle, from raw-material extraction to disposal. To conduct an LCA, industrial professionals need clear and consistent guidelines for assessing the environmental impact of their products. This is where Product Category Rules (PCRs) are useful.
PCRs are a set of guidelines and rules for producing Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for one or more product categories, and they provide detailed instructions on what should be included in the LCA, how to calculate environmental impacts, and how to report the results.

Why is it important to have Product Category Rules (PCR) for rare earths?

PCRs do not exist yet for all products in all sectors, which makes it difficult for many companies to compare and to communicate the environmental performance of their products. In particular, there were no PCRs available for assessing the environmental impacts of rare-earth-element (REE) processing across the entire supply chain. To address this issue, a committee of scientific and industrial experts collaborated to develop the PCRs presented in the current work, providing a framework for assessing the environmental performance of the entire REE supply chain.

The goal of developing PCRs is to ensure consistency and comparability of LCA results for products within the same category, which allows for meaningful comparison between products based on their environmental performance. ISO 14025:2010 describes the procedure for developing the verification of PCRs and sets requirements with respect to comparing different EPDs.

The purpose of the present work is to provide a comprehensive overview of the PCRs for REE oxides (REOs), REE metals, and REE magnets. It will also explain how industrial organisations across all nodes of the entire supply chain, from mine to oxide production, oxide to metal conversion, and metal to magnet manufacturing, can utilize the associated PCR document to assess and improve their environmental impact. The present work will highlight the key features of the PCR document for conducting an LCA for every product category of the entire REE supply chain.

For more detailed information, please refer to the main PCR document, which can be accessed here.

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