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LCA Challenges & Opportunities: Perspectives, Questions and Thoughts Copyright© 2009 UL Environment Inc. All rights reserved. No portion of this material.

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Presentation on theme: "LCA Challenges & Opportunities: Perspectives, Questions and Thoughts Copyright© 2009 UL Environment Inc. All rights reserved. No portion of this material."— Presentation transcript:

1 LCA Challenges & Opportunities: Perspectives, Questions and Thoughts Copyright© 2009 UL Environment Inc. All rights reserved. No portion of this material may be reprinted in any form without the express written permission of Underwriters Laboratories Inc. or as otherwise provided in writing. Paul M. Firth Environmental Science, LCA UL Environment

2 Introduction and Outline Paul Firth of UL Environment –Background in LCA, Manufacturing, Standards Development and Program Development/Management Challenges and Opportunities –Manufacturers Context –Standards Development Context LCAs potential and use is often formed by your perspective and background Questions often arise: pre and post LCA Possibilities and Thoughts Page 2

3 Multiple Perspectives Perspectives are defined by educations, backgrounds, knowledge –PhD vs. MBA The Person… –Industry, Academia, NGO, Standards Development What is their focus? What do each want? Page 3

4 A Deeper Look at Two Perspectives Questions from a Manufacturers Perspective Page 4 Touching on Standards Development

5 Questions from a Manufacturers Perspective 1.I know I have to do LCA because it is THE tool to use, so how do I get started? What do I do when I have data gaps? Once Im done, how do I use it? 2.What about my proprietary information? Can I still use it Externally without compromising my company? 3 rd Party Review? 3. How do I communicate my LCA work to both internal and external audiences? Page 5

6 Questions from a Manufacturers Perspective 1.I know I have to do LCA because it is THE tool to use, so how do I get started? What do I do when I have data gaps? Once Im done, how do I use it? 2.What about my proprietary information? Can I still use it Externally without compromising my company? 3 rd Party Review? 3. How do I communicate my LCA work to both internal and external audiences? Page 6

7 Possibilities and Thoughts: The Environmental Toolbox Risk Assessment Hazard Assessment Material Flow Accounting Toxicity Screening Renewable / Alternative Energy DfE Life Cycle Assessment Biomimicry GHG Accounting Biobased Matls Page 7

8 Two basic ways to have an LCA Program Question: Which one should you I choose… Pros and Cons to each… Possibilities and Thoughts: Type of Program for Your Business InternalExternal Page 8

9 Disadvantages –Can be quite costly per project, $15,000-75,000 –Typically no implementation or integration for leading to next steps –Lack of understanding from an internal perspective Advantages –Get immediate access to expertise –No need for new employee or addition of responsibilities to an existing employee –Provides hassle free services Possibilities and Thoughts: External Program Page 9

10 Disadvantages –Cost of labor or new hire –Cost of software and databases, up to $15,000 –If no knowledge, there is a learning curve –LCI process can be demanding Advantages –Knowledge gained from conducting this internally far exceeds that from external –Internal expertise is guides and directs the process –Rather than a report, you have the full LCA, model, software, results, etc. Possibilities and Thoughts: Internal Program Page 10

11 Possibilities and Thoughts: Data Gaps Is it relevant? If nothing at all to go on, seek expert advice If some insight is available –Informed estimations? –Proxies? –Run sensitivity and uncertainty analyses to identify issues or further needs… Page 11 Be T RANSPARENT about your process and decisions

12 Possibilities and Thoughts: Use and Integration Page 12

13 Questions from a Manufacturers Perspective 1.I know I have to do LCA because it is THE tool to use, so how do I get started? What do I do when I have data gaps? Once Im done, how do I use it? 2.What about my proprietary information? Can I still use it Externally without compromising my company? Critical Review? 3. How do I communicate my LCA work to both internal and external audiences? Page 13

14 Possibilities and Thoughts: Proprietary Information Will your proprietary information actually be disclosed in communications? –Not usually, unless everything about the study involves proprietary info from start to finish How much data should you disclose with LCA reports? –Results and a certain level of aggregated LCI data –KEY: Be T RANSPARENT about choices, methods, values, assumptions, etc. Page 14

15 Possibilities and Thoughts: Proprietary Information Do you need a 3 rd party critical review? –If it is strictly for internal purposes, not necessary but could be beneficial –If study is to be used externally, then yes Will a 3 rd party review help me with my concerns over proprietary data? –Yes… –Adds a level of confidence and allows the reporting to be focused on T RANSPARENCY for things other than the information of concern Page 15

16 Questions from a Manufacturers Perspective 1.I know I have to do LCA because it is THE tool to use, so how do I get started? What do I do when I have data gaps? Once Im done, how do I use it? 2.What about my proprietary information? Can I still use it Externally without compromising my company? 3 rd Party Review? 3. How do I communicate my LCA work to both internal and external audiences? Page 16

17 Work on Communicating New Ideas Rather Than Just Results Use Understandable Language, not LCA-specific Language Different Audience, Different Communication Possibilities and Thoughts: Internal Communication

18 Problem: the study seems to have shown you nothing… Normally caused by a presentation of pure results, confusing reports and/or detailed numbers Need to present new revelations, ideas or outcomes Ex: Priority focus areas, new product development strategy, comparisons and reductions opportunities, etc. Possibilities and Thoughts: Communicating New Ideas

19 The impact assessment revealed through the characterization of certain pollutants, increases Eutrophication were due to the additional phosphorus releases from the additives manufacturing process up stream, which… Or… The new chemical additive caused an increase in water pollution. Possibilities and Thoughts: Understandable Language Page 19

20 Business Managers Research & Development Engineers Sales & Marketing Product Design Possibilities and Thoughts: Different Audiences, Different Communications Page 20

21 Brochures and Case Studies? Critically Review and Reports LCA Data? Company Sponsored Educational Webinars? Comparative Assertions? (additional requirements must be met here according to ISO) Environmental Product Declarations? Sustainability Standards? Possibilities and Thoughts: External Communications Options Page 21

22 Possibilities and Thoughts: Environmental Product Declarations ISO Type III EcoLabel Quantified environmental data for a product with pre-set categories of parameters based on the ISO series of standards, but not excluding additional environmental information Product Category Rules add consistency and relevance to the specific product category adding T RANSPARENCY to the process Source:

23 Type I – Environmental Labeling –ISO Environmental labels and declarations –Utilizes Life Cycle Assessment as means to inform standards development –Some can include LCA directly in some form NSF 140, BIFMA e3, etc. So What about Standards Development?

24 What is the typical approach for standards? –Shotgun approach –One-upsmanship –Industry opinions Possibilities and Thoughts: Moving Forward

25 How do we combat the shotgun, etc., approaches to setting the standards criteria? –Use LCA and other scientific methods to inform these development activities on the front end Criteria mimics the areas of impact Adds credibility to the efforts Increases efficiency of the process Supports sustainability of products Possibilities and Thoughts: Moving Forward

26 How do we combat the shotgun, etc., approaches to setting the standards criteria? –For standards setting, use studies and research based off of accepted, credible methods (not proprietary or questionable methods) –Should LCA be included within the standards? Its debatable… Overall, be T RANSPARENT in choices, methods, justifications, etc.! Possibilities and Thoughts: Moving Forward

27 Closing Thought: Transparency One of the oft cited justifications for LCA is transparency to see your impacts… then why is it that transparency is often cited as a major criticism of LCA??? –There is a big difference in transparency of results and into your own processes AND transparency into how the study was conducted –We cant lose sight of the latter! Page 27

28 Thank You! Paul M. Firth Environmental Science, LCA UL Environment (706)


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