Brief overview

The PROSA method was developed in several stages and in close feedback with practice. The predecessor method “Produktlinienanalyse[1] (english “Product Line Analysis”) was published as early as 1986. The first comprehensive and detailed product sustainability analysis worldwide, which was also carried out with the support of a stakeholder committee, was the “Product Line Analysis Washing and Detergents[2]. Years later, in cooperation with the multinational chemical company Hoechst AG, the project “SustainableHoechst[3] was carried out, the method was further developed for applicability in companies and tested on case studies in China and Germany. Since then, only the English name "Product Sustainability Assessment - PROSA" has been used for the method.

In 2007, the method was further developed in a project[4] funded by the BMBF (German Federal Ministry on Education and Research), with a focus on the sub-methods social impact assessment and benefit analysis. The method was then described in detail in the “Guideline PROSA - Product Sustainability Assessment[5]. To validate the methodology of the social impact assessment, a case study[6] on social impacts in the production of notebooks in China was conducted, i.e. 15 years before a draft law on corporate due diligence in supply chains was passed in the German Federal Cabinet.

Since 2010, several dozen case studies have been carried out with PROSA, mainly on the development of the EcoTopTen product information platform, on establishing award criteria for the German "Blue Angel" eco-label, on social issues in the mining of raw materials and the processing of waste electrical and electronic equipment, and on the sustainability assessment of products and services in the telecommunications sector.

As part of the BMBF-funded project “SDG Assessment[7], the methodology was further revised and updated in 2020. Focal points were the selection and definition of sustainability and benefit indicators as well as the creation of the convenient software "ProFitS. The sustainability and benefit indicators are all based on the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development adopted by the member states of the United Nations in 2015. Thanks to the project results, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for socially, economically and ecologically sustainable development set out in the 2030 Agenda are made methodically available for the sustainability assessment of products. The revised method is now branded PROSAplus and is described in the "PROSAplus Guideline".


[1]    Öko-Institut, Produktlinienanalyse. Kölner Volksblatt Verlag, 1987

[2]    Grießhammer, R.; Bunke, D.; Gensch, C.-O.; Produktlinienanalyse Waschen und Waschmittel. Freiburg, UBA-Texte 1/1997

[3]    Ewen, C.; Ebinger, F.; Gensch, C.-O.; Grießhammer, R.; Hochfeld, C.; Wollny, V.; SustainableHoechst. Sustainable Development: From Guiding Principle to Industrial Tool. Freiburg/Darmstadt/Berlin, 2007

[4]    Grießhammer, R.; Buchert, M.; Gensch, C.-O.; Hochfeld, C.; Manhart, A.; Rüdenauer, I.; in collaboration with Ebinger, F.; Produkt-Nachhaltigkeits-Analyse (PROSA/PLA), Methodenentwicklung und Diffusion. Freiburg, 2007

[5]    Grießhammer, R.; Buchert, M.; Gensch, C.-O.; Hochfeld, C.; Manhart, A.; Reisch, L.; Rüdenauer, I.; PROSA – Product Sustainability Assessment. Guideline. Freiburg, 2007

[6]    Manhart, A.; Grießhammer, R.: Soziale Auswirkungen der Produktion von Notebooks. Beitrag zur Entwicklung einer Produktnachhaltigkeitsanalyse. Freiburg, 2006

[7]    Eberle, U.; Möller, M.; Grießhammer, R.; Gröger, J.; Prieß, R.; Wenzig, J.: SDG-Bewertung - Weiterentwicklung einer Nachhaltigkeitsbewertungsmethode auf Basis der Nachhaltigkeitsziele der Vereinten Nationen. Final Report. Witten / Freiburg, 2021