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LCA Development

Latest news: Linking the UN SDGs to LCA
Last year, PRé Sustainability and 2.-0 LCA Consultants started a UNEP Life Cycle Initiative project to link the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to life cycle assessment (LCA). Ever since the SDGs were introduced, companies have been wanting to contribute to achieving them. Unfortunately, the SDG targets and indicators were not developed with businesses in mind, so it is difficult to effectively measure and monitor the results of your effort. Together with 2.-0 LCA consultants, we have now developed two complementary approaches to help businesses measure their performance on the SDGs they care about.
Promoting environmental footprinting in the Southern Mediterranean region
CASE STUDY | For countries outside the EU, EU policies may become market barriers or market opportunities. UNIDO supported Southern Mediterranean countries by building capacity in Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) studies, which can help them establish a stronger position on the European markets.
Harness the power of the LCA community
Measuring sustainable impact has become increasingly important, which means the same is true for quantitative metrics. Without metrics to measure progress and impact, it is hard to manage sustainability. In many cases, sustainability targets are set top-down. That seems logical, as that is also how it’s done for financial targets, for instance. But that can’t be done without harnessing the power of the LCA community.
Highlights of developments in impact assessment in 2018
Developers of new impact assessment methodologies are constantly on a quest to improve the reliability of LCA results. As a busy LCA practitioner, you may not have the time to keep track of ongoing research. To make it easier for you to get a sense of what is happening in the field, PRé has decided to start doing a bi-annual overview of the most interesting developments. This article was written by Laura Golsteijn with contributions from Peter Fantke, Francesca Verones, Marisa Vieira, and Rosalie van Zelm.
Scientific publication about PEF category rules for shampoos
CASE STUDY | For trade association Cosmetics Europe (CE), PRé wrote a scientific article for publication on the development of CE’s PEFCRs for shampoo. This helped increase their audience and reach.
Potential for circularity in diapers and incontinence care products
CASE STUDY | For Flemish waste management organisation OVAM, PRé researched the potential for circularity and recycling of diapers and other absorbent hygiene products (AHP), a huge part of the household waste stream.
The end of the PEF pilot phase and the start of a beautiful friendship
The European Commission’s Environmental Footprinting (EF) pilot phase has successfully ended. Of the 27 pilot projects, 14 have defined their product environmental footprint category rules (PEFCRs) or organisation environmental footprint sector rules (OEFSRs) for the European market and another 9 aim to do so by October. Now, the PEF method is available for use by anyone who is interested. Read on for a brief review and to see what’s next!
Supporting the changing sustainability standards in Europe
CASE STUDY | Supporting the European Commission’s product environmental footprint (PEF) initiative, PRé served as technical helpdesk and trainers for the pilot phase of four and a half years, gaining valuable experience in complex alignment projects.
Comparing PEF and EPD for construction products
CASE STUDY | A large construction trade association was interested in comparing PEF and EPD to improve its reporting. Therefore, PRé did PEF studies on two equivalent products and compared the results to EPDs based on the EN 15804 standard.
PRé is the platinum sponsor of the Life Cycle Management 2017 conference in Luxembourg
The 8th edition of the international Life Cycle Management conference, recognised as one of the most important conferences in the field of sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment, is going to be held this year in Luxembourg. LCM 2017 will take place from 3 to 6 september at the European Congress Center, hosting decision-makers from science, industry, NGOs and public bodies worldwide. PRé Sustainability is proud to be present as Platinum Sponsor.
Calculating the biodiversity footprint for the banking sector
For ASN Bank, PRé and CREM developed a methodology to calculate the biodiversity footprint of the bank's investments from simple spend data, bringing the complexity of biodiversity down to manageable level.
PEF masterclass: Sharing the environmental footprinting initiative with a broader audience
In 2013, the European Commission started the process for development and testing the product and organisation environmental footprinting rules, known as the PEF pilot phase. Since then, a large number of organisations have been actively involved in one of the 24 pilots. Many more, however, have not been involved but are paying attention. After all, it is an initiative started by the European Commission, and it could be game-changing at an industry level. To answer questions from the market, PRé organised a masterclass to share our experience and the value of environmental footprinting.
Food and agricultural data for PEF/OEF studies: most recent released PEF data
To ensure comparability within products groups, the PEF initiative is facilitating the use of life cycle inventory data. Now, after the Energy and Transport data was released, the Agricultural and Food sector are following. This is a short update on the availability of the PEF datasets that have been most recently released; towards consistent EF-compliant data.
Bringing Product Environmental Footprint to the next level: review of supporting studies
CASE STUDY | Part of the European Commission’s Environmental Footprinting initiative is testing its new rules with real products. PRé and Ecomatters reviewed 40 studies, uncovering useful information that will be used to refine the rules.
State of the debate and outlook for the PEF initiative
At PRé, we’ve been very involved in the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprinting (PEF) and the Organisational Environmental Footprinting (OEF) initiative, as covered in our series of articles. A big part of the PEF initiative is its pilot phase, planned to last for 3 years and initially scheduled to end soon. However, the pilot phase has recently been extended. In this news article, you will read why and what the status is.
Biodiversity, part 3: biodiversity, climate change and a final question
In our biodiversity series, we look at how to assess the impact of biodiversity changes. We looked at the basic assumptions and metrics in Part 1, and in Part 2 we looked at land use change and how that ties to biodiversity. In this article, we discuss the effect of climate change on biodiversity, and pose our final question.
The EN 15804 building product LCA standard: more challenges than benefits
GUEST POST | In general, the development of standards is a good thing, especially in such a complex environment as building and construction. But not all standards are an unmitigated benefit. This week, we feature a guest post by PhD student Sahar Mirzaie, about her research into the pitfalls and challenges in LCA for the building sector, including the EN 15804 standard.
Biodiversity, part 2: land use and biodiversity
In our biodiversity series, we address biodiversity and its impact assessment. In part 1, we discussed some definitions and units. In this article, we look at land use and how land use and land-use change affect biodiversity. How do we measure the damage, and who pays?
Quantifying your activities’ impact on biodiversity
Biodiversity refers to the variety of organisms present in an ecosystem, or the genetic variation within an area. This diversity is necessary for many ecosystems and human systems services, either directly (for example, agricultural activities) or indirectly (for example local temperature regulation or natural filtering and cleaning of water streams). For that reason, we need to make sure we protect our planet’s biodiversity and to do so we need to know the impacts of our actions on it.
Biodiversity, part 1: our impact on biodiversity
Biodiversity, agriculture and food are very current topics, within the field of sustainability and outside of it. They have a strong effect on GHG emissions, climate change and global warming, which means it is essential for policy makers to give these topics some thought. Unfortunately, these topics require a lot of nuanced thinking. In this series, we address biodiversity impact assessment. Part 1: how do you even define ‘nature’?
Energy & Transport Data for PEF/OEF Studies: The First Building Block
To ensure comparability within products groups, the PEF initiative is facilitating the use of life cycle inventory data. The Energy and Transport data constitutes the first data lot. This is a short update on the availability of this first building block towards consistent EF-compliant data.
Guidance For Modelling The Use Stage In The PEF Approach
For many product groups, the use stage can contribute much to the overall environmental impact. However, underlying modelling assumptions make it difficult to pinpoint exactly how much. Standardising the modelling approaches can greatly reduce the uncertainties in the calculated use-stage impact. The Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) and Organisation Environmental Footprint Sector Rules (OEFSRs), developed by the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) initiative, are assessment standards for all LCA practitioners. In this edition of the PEF series, we describe the PEF initiative’s guidance on the use stage.
Global Guidance for Life Cycle Impact Assessment Indicators and Methods - On Track
One of the downsides of LCA is that LCA results are difficult to interpret for those sustainability practitioners who aren’t specialised in LCA, but do rely on it on the battlefield. That’s why the LCA community has been striving so hard to find consensus and decide on standardisation, aiming to make LCA more efficient and easier to interpret. An important initiative is the Flagship 1b project of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative, which aims to build global consensus and guidance. This article shows the exciting progress so far.
Developments in LCA in the Food Industry
Food and its consumption have a significant impact on our environment. It is estimated that a third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is linked to agriculture and food production. The insights gathered via robust LCA studies can really help consumers, governments and industry to abate the environmental impacts and take more informed decisions. But consistency in data and methods is a must. In this piece, I’d like to share a short overview of the latest developments towards alignment in LCA food data and extend an invitation to meet the SimaPro team at the LCA Food conference.
Measuring The Environmental Footprint Of Organisations In The PEF Initiative
In 2013, the European Commission started testing the environmental footprint rules in what is known as the environmental footprint (PEF) pilot phase. However, this pilot phase contains more than just PEF. Although the focus is predominantly on the product level (24 out of 26 pilots), this 3-year initiative also aims to test the development of environmental footprint rules for organisations. In this article, I will briefly describe the organisational environmental footprint (OEF) in the European Commission’s initiative.
The Importance Of LCA Data Standards And Alignment
LCA has existed for several decades now. But still, there are no clear standards for technical issues, such as substance nomenclature and data quality in LCA, among other. Every now and then, initiatives arise with a new passion to tackle this problem. Right now, several powerful initiatives are doing just that. This article explores the status quo of LCA data standards at this moment, and shows you the latest developments in changing it.
Carbon Modelling In The PEF Initiative
The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) approach aims to standardise and simplify LCA practice while maintaining its high quality. To enable all LCA practitioners to use the same approach, Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) are being developed. In this edition of the PEF series, we describe the state of the art of carbon modelling.
Impact assessment in the PEF initiative
One of the goals of the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) Initiative is to offer a standard for impact assessment, so it is easier and more meaningful to compare products. This is the story of how the initiative chose its recommended set of methods from among the huge number of available options.
Towards Environmental Footprint Rules - PEF Governance Structure
In the testing of the Environmental Footprint Rules, there are many stakeholders involved. It is a well thought governance structure established for a transparent and collaborative framework. This piece aims at describing the governance structure of the EF rules pilot phase.
Why the Succes of Circular Economy is Owned by Chemicals
Chemical substances are everywhere around us and essential components of our human bodies. Yet, in order to protect biodiversity as well as human health, it is important that we use them in a safe manner. And that might have a circular form…
Data Requirements In The PEF Approach
For an LCA study to be compliant with the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards, it needs to include the data quality requirements and a data quality analysis. A lot of LCA practitioners who provide these required elements don’t derive actual value from them, though. They often do it to tick all the boxes. But why is this? And how is the PEF initiative changing this?
Hotspot analysis in the PEF approach
Although LCA is ideal for identifying all the hotspots within a product’s life cycle or an organization’s value chain, it did not provide clear guidance on how to select the most relevant ones. Now, from the PEF pilots, the European Commission has established guidelines to select the most relevant hotspots and determine which data should be collected.
The role of the representative product in the PEF approach
The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) approach is a game-changing initiative in LCA, with effects and ramifications that we are only just beginning to understand. Today in PRé’s PEF series: What is a European representative product? And how do these products play a crucial role in the development of specific rules for product environmental footprinting of the various product groups?
Agri-footprint: a keystone database for sustainable food worldwide
Worldwide, about 25% of all life cycle assessments are related to the agri-food sector. Good databases such as Agri-footprint therefore have a substantial impact. Agri-footprint has been available to the LCA community since May 2014. In December 2015, Agri-footprint 2.0 will be made available in SimaPro.
Modelling end-of-life in the PEF approach
PRé is dedicating an article series to the PEF initiative of the European Commission, since we are involved as technical helpdesk. Today: end-of-life modelling with material or energy recovery, a hotly debated topic ever since LCA exists. The number of scientific papers discussing this topic is huge; Google scholar gives 64000 hits. The PEF approach seeks to end this discussion.
Announcement: PRé Launches New Web-Based Software At LCM 2015
PRé hosted a side room event at the Life Cycle Management 2015 conference in Bordeaux to launch its latest software offering, SimaPro Share & Collect.
PEF: a game changer in LCA
The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) approach is a game-changing standard in LCA, with effects and ramifications that we are only just beginning to understand. That’s why PRé is devoting an article series to PEF, discussing it one aspect at a time. Today: how did PEF come about? And what are some of the lessons we have learned so far?
State of the art of LCA in business
At PRé we’re committed to empower LCA and sustainability practitioners to increase their impact, because we believe Life Cycle Thinking can make sustainability decisions more fact-based.
How To Unite the Two Viewpoints On Toxicity?
Manufacturing companies usually look at a product’s toxicity from two points of view: “How sustainable is the product regarding human health and the environment?” and “Does the product pose a risk to specific groups of people, e.g. the workers involved in its production?”
Why My LCA Scores Radically Changed After The ecoinvent Update
With each upgrade of an LCI database, LCA practitioners need to be aware that their results might change. PRé’s LCA expert Tommie Ponsioen researches the extent of the changes caused by updating from ecoinvent 2.2 to 3.1.
LCA Has Some Storytelling To Do
Life cycle thinking is and always has been a powerful tool to gain insight into the impact your products have on the environment. It’s perhaps the most comprehensive and robust methodology we have available. However, its use seems to stay limited.
Creating Shared Value Requires Shared Valuation
The key question for every business model is whether the initiative is viable and sustainable over time. We measure that through a conventional cost-benefit analysis, and we do that even in what are considered sustainable business models. Is that the way to go, and does it reflect all values that are created? Is it at all possible to develop a sustainable business when not all implicit values ​​are valued? The answer, of course, is no, but … how can we do it differently?
Why Food And Beverage LCAs Are Difficult To Do
Compared to several other sectors, such as the packaging, household and personal care, transport and building sectors, food and beverage LCA are only just catching up. What is it about the food and beverage sector that makes it so difficult to do good LCAs?
Mark Goedkoop Presents New Methodology at Social LCA Seminar
With his presentation, Mark aims to get a better connection to the research community and understand how companies and other organisations can collaborate in the next phases of the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics development.
Bad Labor Footprint | Social Impacts in the Supply Chain
As many products are being exported to other countries, and as the products that we consume are often produced elsewhere, the question arises: “How does consumption relate to bad labor conditions around the globe?”. Laura Golsteijn, Technical Analyst for PRé, contributed to the development of the new study: “Bad Labor Footprint”. In this article, she explains how the study offers a new perspective on how to account for the social impacts of globalization.
How Product Social Footprinting Meets Customer Expectations and Improves Communications
Sustainable Brands '14 London - PRé, DSM, Philips and Marks & Spencer, all members of the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics, discussed how social footprinting aligns with branding and communications at the SB'14 London.
One Year of Environmental Footprinting Pilots (And What Cows Have To Do With This)
One year ago, the European Commission launched the pilot phase for the Environmental Footprint methodology. Many things have happened in this first year since the start of the pilots, and in this article we’d like to give you an update.
The next steppingstone to assess product sustainability
Sustainable Brands New Metrics 2014 - João Fontes (PRé) and Charles Duclaux (L'Oréal) presented the method of the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics for quantifying social footprints on a product level. Here you can download the presentation slides.
Product Social Footprinting | L’Oréal’s Charles Duclaux on Measuring the Social Impacts of Products
PRé has gathered industry leaders from L’Oréal, Marks & Spencer, Steelcase, BASF, BMW Group, DSM, Goodyear, Philips, AkzoNobel, Corbion, Ahold and Reckitt Benckiser for the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics, a pioneering endeavour that aims to bring together principles and metrics for social impact assessment. We spoke to Charles Duclaux, Head of Corporate Responsibility Reporting and Environmental Innovation at L'Oréal, about the Roundtable's Handbook and L'Oréal's sustainability efforts at large.
How Understanding Your Products’ Social Footprints Helps Your Business Create Value
Many global standards and guidance documents exist that allow companies to investigate impacts at an organisational level. Although these initiatives have many benefits, they provide limited guidance for companies to assess the social impacts of products in a more comprehensive and harmonised way.
Announcement of Second-wave EF Pilots
The European Commission launched the development of environmental footprint (EF) rules for products and organizations in various industries. This new approach aims to harmonise the assessment of environmental impacts within a product group or sector. The first pilot phase started in November 2013, and the second wave started in June 2014.
Quantifying Sustainability II – Natural Capital and Monetisation
Part I of this article series explained why companies might want to monetise sustainability, expressing impacts in monetary value to make them more tangible. This part shows the steps required to do monetisation, and discusses the drawbacks and advantages.
Characterisation: New Developments for Toxicity
This is the first in a series of articles where PRé's own consultants explain a step in the LCA process and the way their own expertise fits into that step. First up is Laura Golsteijn, who is not just an expert on characterisation in LCIA, but also earned a PhD based on her original characterisation research.
Emerging International Consensus On A Truly Global Network of LCA Databases
An intergovernmental process has been initiated to solve the problems around the lack of availability of life cycle data once and for all.
New, Sustainable Business Models and Their Impacts
Sustainability is not just important on the product level, but needs to be supported by a sustainable business model. Eric Mieras, Managing Director at PRé, dives into what that means.
On Developing Globally Relevant LCA Databases
As LCA becomes a more globally important and accepted way of measuring our environmental impacts and quantify sustainability in business, we will have to face our many problems.
Developing the CAP’EM Compass of building materials
CASE STUDY | CAP'EM aims to increase awareness and use of environmentally friendly building materials. PRé developed the innovative CAP’EM Compass to share sustainability metrics with architects and other stakeholders.
Revision of Ecolabel Criteria for Dishwasher and Laundry Detergents
In the coming year, the EU will revise the Ecolabel and Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria for dishwasher and laundry detergents. PRé Consultants is executing this project together with UK consulting firm Oakdene Hollins.
Roundtable for Social Metrics | Accessible Social Impact Assessment
Twelve sustainability experts from leading companies have come together in the Roundtable for Social Metrics, aiming to make social impact assessment more accessible and meaningful through the development of a handbook for social impact assessments of products and services along value chains.
Free PROSUITE Handbook Now Available Online
Assessing the sustainability impacts of technology poses unique challenges. The PROSUITE group has developed a novel methodology to help you meet these challenges, and is now making the PROSUITE Handbook available to sustainability professionals and non-technical users at no cost.
PRé acting as Technical Helpdesk for the Testing of Environmental Footprint Rules
PRé has been selected to act as Technical Helpdesk for the European Commission's 3-year pilot project that aims to define Environmental Footprint Rules. These rules contribute to LCA methodologies that compare similar products and organisations.
Social Assessment of Technologies | The Approach in PROSUITE
This presentation on the approach in PROSUITE was used during the LCM Conference 2013, by our Sustainability Consultant João Fontes.
LCM Conference 2013 | Roundtable for Product Social Metrics
This presentation was used during the LCM Conference 2013, by our Sustainability Consultant João Fontes. It consists of the added value and key challenges of the project, the results of rountable phase 1 and the explanation of steps 2 and 3.
How industry associations promote sustainability
VIDEO | Helping SMEs at a sector level
Prosuite | Sustainability Assessment for Technology
The Prosuite consortium developed a methodology for sustainability assessment of new technologies following a life cycle assessment based approach. In December 2013, the PROSUITE handbook will be will published on the Pré website.
A method for assessing the impact of novel technology
CASE STUDY | For PROSUITE, Pré helped develop a novel sustainability impact assessment method for technology, including social impact assessment and new sustainability metrics. This helps understand the effect of these hard-to-predict technologies.
PROSUITE makes sustainability assessment of technologies possible
The PROSUITE project for the sustainability assessment of technologies culminated on October 30th. After 4 years of intensive developments, the PROSUITE consortium met in Brussels to present the outcomes of the project to a diverse group of stakeholders: EU and other policy makers, industries, researchers.
Measuring social sustainability in the meat industry
CASE STUDY | For an US meat industry association, PRé gathered data for a social life cycle assessment. The goal was not only to quantify current social impacts, but also to see how social impacts in the meat industry changed over time.
ReCiPe Report
Recipe is a life cycle impact assessment method which comprises harmonised category indicators at the midpoint and the endpoint level
An inventory of environmental emissions in the EU
CASE STUDY | To monitor progress on sustainability in the EU, the Joint Research Centre of the EU asked PRé to help develop an innovative and robust large database describing environmental emissions and extractions in the EU between 1990 and 2010.
Social Hotspots Database now available for SimaPro LCA software
The Social Hotspots Database system license is now available in the SimaPro LCA software. This database is the first comprehensive database for performing Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA).
Quantifying product life cycle impacts for the apparel industry
With qualitative sustainability indicators already established, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition wanted to work to quantify product life cycle impacts in a standardized way. To assist with this effort, the non-profit group developed a PCR Guidance document, and PRé helped with the review process.
Developing an LCA method for resource extraction
CASE STUDY | The European Commission requested the development of a life cycle assessment method for resource extraction impacts. PRé was part of a task group of 16 partners, coordinated by the Radboud University Nijmegen, developing this method.
How to Select Relevant Indicators for Decision Making in Sustainability
Though many companies are increasingly assessing the impacts of their products, the focus is often only on climate change. Yet, decisions made solely on the basis of a carbon footprint may result in the shifting of burdens.
Measuring the Social Impacts of Products | Join the Social Roundtable
Begun in early 2013, the Social Pioneers Roundtable has already made great strides in harmonizing approaches for measuring the social impacts of products. Of course, there is still work to be done. Therefore, we are delighted to extend our group for the next phase of this Roundtable.
A brief on the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint Guide
The European Commission released the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) Guide in April, 2013, along with the Organizational Environmental Footprint (OEF) Guide, under the premise of the “Single Market for Green Products Initiative.” The objective is to support a single metric for a single market, thus enhancing transparency and fair competition.
PCR Guidance Review for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition
PRé was commissioned to review the internal PCR Guidance documents for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. This coalition spans about one-third of the apparel (clothing and shoes) sector. Their aim is to create a Higgs index for all apparel, reflecting the environmental impact
Deciding for Sustainability
Product information — or making the invisible, visible — and clear sustainability goals are at the core of making informed and better sustainability choices. This is the second in a serie of columns in which Simon Evitts gives his insight on the importance of Sustainability Metrics Integration
Organizing a global PCR database for GEDnet
CASE STUDY | For non-profit organization GEDNET, an association that fosters worldwide information exchange, PRé created a global database of product category rules. The main benefits of this are cost reduction and increased traceability of data.
LC-Impact Culmination | Presentation of the outcomes
The work of LC-impact is nearing its culmination, after 3.5 years. The outcomes will be presented during a special session, which is organized during the SETAC Europe annual meeting in Glasgow.
LC-Impact Culmination | Training Materials Available
The work of the LC-impact project is nearing its culmination. PRé is actively participating in this project, together with other 16 European partners from academia, industry, and SME’s.The first course materials for LC-impact have been developed.
Identifying best existing practice for characterization modeling in life cycle impact assessment
Life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) is a field of active development. The last decade has seen prolific publication of new impact assessment methods covering many different impact categories and providing characterization factors that often deviate from each other for the same substance and impact. Here you can read the journey towards identifying the best existing practice for characterization modeling in life cycle impact assessment.
Developing methodology for a social impacts program
The Dutch company DSM developed the twin program "People+" with the focus on social impacts, which PRé supported with consultancy.
TRAINING
Jun 19-20 | SimaPro and LCA: essentials
Jun 19-21 | SimaPro and LCA: in-depth
Sep 25-26 | SimaPro and LCA: essentials
Sep 25-27 | SimaPro and LCA: in-depth
Oct 17-18 | Product Environmental Footprint
Nov 20-21 | SimaPro and LCA: essentials
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