July/August 2020 Edition

LC-Net Focus

Must-Read: the Initiative’s Latest Position Paper on Circular Economy

Circular Economy (CE) is gaining more and more attention worldwide as a way to advance efficiently towards sustainable consumption and production patterns, which in turn contributes to achieving the sustainable development goals. With its regenerative nature, CE aims to extract the maximum value out of resources, keeping products, parts of products, and materials available in cycling loops (as opposed to in a “take-make-dispose” linear model), thus preserving natural, manufactured, human, and social assets.

Our paper argues that Life Cycle Assessment can be used as a tool to understand the environmental and social implications of CE strategies, as well as identifying the most promising of those strategies and options for improving the environmental performance of society's consumption and production patterns.

The Life Cycle Initiative has published this paper to position the use of LCA in the development, adoption, and implementation of CE worldwide, in order to advance more efficiently and effectively towards sustainability. This paper defines the conceptual relationship between CE and LCA and recommends further steps towards enhancing their synergies. Furthermore, the paper also points out the assessment limitations of LCA in the context of CE, and prioritises issues to be developed in order to enable better support from the information, models, and results of LCA to the implementation of circular economy.

>> Read the position paper on our website.

Profiling our Partners

unilever image 07 2020

Unilever: New Engagements for a Healthier Planet

Unilever, a funding partner of the Life Cycle Initiative, announced in June 2020 a new set of actions and commitments “designed to improve the health of the planet”.

Among these new commitments are:
  • Attaining net zero emissions from all their products by 2039, across their supply chains up to the point of sale;
  • Ensuring a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023; and
  • Creating a €1 billion Climate and Nature Fund which will be used over the next ten years “on initiatives that protect and improve the health of the planet”.
The new ambition, building on the Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (2010-2020) and using the SDGs as a blueprint, is to fight climate change, protect nature and preserve resources for future generations. In all this, Life Cycle Assessment / Life Cycle Thinking is crucial because it helps to focus the attention where it matters the most, as well as to compare new and existing products in order to reduce their environmental impact across the entire value chain through informed innovation. And LCA is the basis to measure the net zero emissions for all Unilever products up to the point of sale, of course.

From the Life Cycle Initiative, we salute this bold move by our partner and look forward to seeing many others following their lead by taking responsibility across the life cycle of their products. And as mentioned in Unilever’s Twitter account, if anyone thinks these aren’t worthwhile ambitions, we’d ask them… what planet are you on?

>>More information about Unilever’s new commitments.



Save The Date: 4th General Assembly of the Life Cycle Initiative on September 10, 2020 • 11h-15h CEST

The Life Cycle Initiative will hold its Fourth Online General Assembly on September 10, 2020. It is open to all Life Cycle Initiative members. The General Assembly is an opportunity to showcase all the Initiative’s activities over the past year, envision together future activities and enhance cooperation between members.

Just as last year, members will also elect three new representatives to the Steering Committee for 2020-2021. As stipulated in the governance of the Initiative (Annexes 3.2 and 3.3 of the strategy document), one seat of each constituency in the Steering Committee (government, business, science & civil society) rotates every year. In order to respect the geographical representation rule, institutional members from the following regions may opt for election to the Steering Committee this year:
  • Government: Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, West Asia
  • Business: Africa, Europe, North America, West Asia
  • Science and Civil Society (only institutional members): Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, West Asia
Members that belong to the geographical scope mentioned above are welcomed to present their candidacy to the Steering Committee if interested. To do so, please send an email to [email protected] copy to [email protected], explaining your motivation and qualification to become part of the Steering Committee. Please send your candidacy email before 1st September 2020.

For all members, please save the date for the General Assembly on September 10, 2020 from 11h00 to 15h00 (CEST), and look for more details in the next newsletter, which will be delivered to your inbox in early September.

Remember: membership registration is open throughout the year. You or your institution can join by downloading, completing and returning a signed membership form to [email protected] and copy [email protected].

Your one-stop-shop platform to search, find, compare, convert and download LCA datasets is now online!

On June 11, the Global LCA Data Access network (GLAD) was launched (view the launch webinar video). For the occasion, we held a super dynamic 2-hour virtual event, with live demos and interactive discussions and panels, all of this kindly hosted by our partners PRé Sustainability (many thanks again!). The goal of the launch was to present the GLAD platform which allows to search, convert and download datasets from different life cycle assessment dataset providers. Most of the LCA data providers are already connected to GLAD (datasets connected went from 4,000+ to 80,000+ in the 3 weeks ahead of the launch!), or in the process, and we hope that by the end of the year the vast majority of LCA data will be found via GLAD. GLAD hence improves sustainability-related decisions through enhanced, interoperable and global access to LCA datasets. We trust GLAD will move from strength to strength in gluing a global community seeking enhanced interoperability of LCA data, and that it will revolutionize the way in which LCA studies can be delivered, faster and more economically. This is possible because a strong community of willing parties is contributing to it; you can join forces in this community and BE GLAD!

>> Read more about the GLAD launch webinar
A virtual toast to GLAD during the launch ... CHEERS!

New report: Roadmap for national LCA database development: guidance and recommendations from around the world

The goal of this new publication is to support countries in developing and implementing roadmaps and action plans to establishing national LCA databases. Such roadmaps are a practical tool to raise and align the support and multi-stakeholder efforts required to generate, structure, and disseminate LCA data while pursuing interoperability with other data sources.

LCA sets the foundation for measuring resource efficiency, environmental impacts and ultimately circularity in our products and economies.
But even though it is widely recognized that adopting a life cycle approach is key, the access to locally relevant LCA datasets (the building blocks of LCA studies), and the lack of capacity to generate them, are often a constraint in developing countries and emerging economies. The demand for environmental information on products is increasing, and thus the ability to generate, provide access to and apply such knowledge becomes a matter of competitiveness for exporting economies.
Overall, the development of a national LCA database can help increase the availability of regionalized data, build local capacity in LCA, and increase the practical application of LCA in the country.

The intended audience of this document are individuals and entities aspiring to drive national LCA database development in their respective countries or regions. It is assumed that readers and users of this document possess a good knowledge of LCA methodology and are generally familiar with the LCA database concept.

>> Access and download the report: in English or in Español.

New Report: LCA studies on single-use plastic bottles and their alternatives

The meta-analysis study on single-use plastic bottles developed with IVL has passed through stakeholder consultation and is now published and available for download on our website.

The report summarises current knowledge about single-use plastic bottles and alternatives that could potentially replace them from a functional and transportation point of view. The following alternatives are considered: glass bottle (single-use), aluminium can (single-use), carton laminated packaging systems (single-use), reusable steel and aluminium bottles, as well as non-container means for providing drinking water (see table below).
Reusable glass bottles were considered in one study only as part of sensitivity analysis.

A series of other studies on single-use plastic products will be published throughout the year including on take-away food packaging as well as beverage cups. A high-level summary report for policy makers integrating the findings in previous studies will be published in October 2020 as an information document to the Fifth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA5).

This publication has been developed with the kind financial contribution of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

>> Access and download the report.

New Report: National Guidance for Plastic Pollution Hotspotting and Shaping Action (Coming Soon)

UNEP, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Life Cycle Initiative co-developed a ‘National Guidance for Plastic Pollution Hotspotting and Shaping Action’. The Guidance aims to provide a methodological framework for identifying plastic leakage ‘hotspots’, finding their impacts along the entire plastic value chain, and then prioritising actions once these hotspots are identified. It is aimed at enabling countries, regions, or cities to take and use this methodological framework in their own environments and establishing a baseline for benchmarking and tracking the progress of interventions.
plastic hotspotting UNEP IUCN
The Guidance takes a holistic approach, covering major types of plastic polymers and products, as well as their leakage and impacts along the full value chain.

The Guidance report will be published on the website of the Initiative soon. There will also be modules and tools to help users for data collection, modelling and calculations, which are to be published later this year.

Project and Activity Updates

Forthcoming work on LCAs of Single-Use Plastic Products

After the reports on single-use plastic bags and single-use plastic bottles and their alternatives, plus the ongoing report on single-use plastic take-away food packaging, the Life Cycle Initiative is starting four new meta-analyses on the LCA studies of single-use plastic products. The reports are currently being developed by our partner, TGH Think Space NPC, who has a proven experience in conducting technical research and LCAs.

The following four meta-analyses on selected single-use plastic products and their alternatives (including reusable alternatives) will be delivered in the coming months:
  • Single-use plastic cutlery, bowls and plates (picnic utensils), and their alternatives;
  • Single-use plastic beverage cups (takeaway style cups for both hot and cold beverages), and their alternatives;
  • Disposable baby diapers/nappies and their alternatives; and
  • Single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) (face masks) and their alternatives.
The studies are being prepared in view of informing the debate about pollution from single-use plastic products during the upcoming fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly.

Get involved! Members of the Initiative that have relevant LCA studies that could be useful for the meta-analyses, or that are interested in reviewing the studies, can directly contact TGH Think Space NPC by email, by reaching out to Philippa Notten.

7th International Conference on SLCA: UNEP’s Presentation Paper

The 7th international conference on Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) was held online on June 14-17, 2020. Sanjeevan Bajaj from the Council for Research on Policy & Governance-New Delhi together with UNEP and Quantis, presented findings related to ‘Social Hotspots in the Textiles Global Value Chain’ in the scope of UNEP’s project on mapping the textile value chain, identifying key hotspots at the global level and assessing trade barriers and opportunities (report forthcoming). This is important as the textile industry has grown to become one of the largest global industries, while its value chain is still far from closing its loops, reducing environmental impacts and addressing social concerns. With sales expected to grow further, actions for a sustainable value chain, including new business models are indispensable.

The case study presented at the conference was based on an assessment of the apparel industry’s impacts throughout its entire life cycle and along different value chain stages The use of online tools such as the Social Hotspot Database (SHDB) in the model helped cover the social aspects of this Life Cycle Assessment. Key findings include that fibre production, yarn and fabric production as well as garment assembly stages are associated with social risks – at the same time those value chain stages that are primarily located in developing economies and that are lower value add stages. We are happy to note that this presentation won the prize for best case-study at the 7th international conference on Social Life Cycle Assessment, and we use this opportunity to congratulate all the members of the team that worked on this study.

Introducing the methodological framework of the MarILCA project

The Marine Impacts in Life Cycle Assessment (MarILCA) project hosted on June 10th 2020 a webinar introducing the project and its methodological framework. The webinar was hosted by the MarILCA project team and started with an introduction of the project provided by project co-chair Anne-Marie Boulay (CIRAIG, Canada). Thereafter, John Woods, postdoctoral researcher at NTNU (Norway), who has been co-developing the methodological framework, provided an overview of the framework. An extensive period of questions and discussion followed. In total, more than 90 participants attended the webinar. The entire webinar including the questions and answers was recorded and is now available on the project website.

Life Cycle Impact Assessment Indicators and Methods -- GLAM

After the success of Global Guidance for Life Cycle Impact Assessment Indicators and Methods (GLAM) phases 1 and 2, we are pleased to move to phase 3 of the GLAM project. This third phase will be one more step towards our goal of building consensus around life cycle knowledge, thus facilitating application and use of life cycle assessment by governments, industry and NGOs.

A stakeholder consultation for this project took place online (watch the recorded video) on 7th May, with the participation of close to 200 people from around the world.

More than 170 scientists are already engaged in the development of the global LCIA method that will cover four main areas including normalisation and weighting (NW) to assess the life cycle impacts of products and services on human health (HH), ecosystem quality (EQ) and natural resources (NR).

>> Complete and send the Expression of Interest Form to join one or several of these task forces, either as a LCIA developer status (expertise in the field, minimum in-kind commitment of 8 days' work/year, regular attendance to teleconferences) or a stakeholder status providing important advisory comments. Please send your forms to Ms. Oumayma Ouzane.

News from the Life Cycle Network

How green is your lifestyle?

Our partners at the One Planet network programme on Sustainable Lifestyles and Education, together with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, have pulled together an overview of lifestyle footprint calculators. These calculators, based on Life Cycle Assessment, help people understand the environmental consequences of their choices. We’d like to encourage the LCA community contribute to enhancing the accuracy and usability of these calculators.
Screenshot 2020-07-05 at 21.44.29

Project Updates

>> Access the overview

A new success story from our network: Sustainable Palm Oil, informed by Life Cycle Assessment

The latest in our series of success stories comes from South East Asia, and tells us how palm oil giant United Plantations Berhad (UP) has been informing its sustainability strategy with LCA. Using LCA, UP have been able to monitor and steer the reduction in the GHG footprint of their main product, halving it in 15 years of continuous improvement.
Being an active member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) since 2004, UP built strong sustainable practices foundation by becoming the world’s first producer of certified sustainable palm oil according to RSPO Principles and Criteria in 2008, recertified again in 2013 and 2017, following RSPO rules. Some years ago the company set itself a challenging target to drive efforts towards increased efficiency.

>> Read more

CADIS is celebrating 15 years promoting informed decision-making and capacity building for Sustainability

Fifteen years ago, the Centre for Life Cycle Assessment and Sustainable Design (CADIS) was founded in Mexico with the firm conviction of strengthening Sustainable Consumption and Production through Life Cycle Management tools. It has been a path of achievements in Latin America, Africa and worldwide.

With more than 4,000 trained people and the development of several LCAs and Environmental Product Declarations, in CADIS we have been able to contribute to innovation and capacity building in the field. Therefore, for our 15th anniversary, we reimagined ourselves and seek to foster knowledge for a better planet, working towards incorporating life cycle sustainability into people’s and organizations’ culture.

We deeply appreciate the trust given through the years and reiterate our commitment to the continuous work of the Life Cycle Initiative community ever since its foundation. For more information about our work please visit our webpage.
CADIS 15 years

Our Calendar: where we and our partners will be active

Life Cycle Innovation Conference | VIRTUAL EVENT | 26-28 August 2020
The Forum for Sustainability through Life Cycle Innovation (FSLCI) invites you to join the 2nd Life Cycle Innovation Conference (LCIC 2020), a truly unique conference that provides a highly interactive space to think sustainability and innovation together, not apart! The conference will take place from August 26-28 and focus on innovative approaches and methods to address sustainability challenges as well as innovative products and services that will help transition towards a more sustainable world. The conference combines traditional presentations sessions with workshops and barcamps (spontaneous group discussions).

>> Register now for this unique event.

4th General Assembly of the Life Cycle Initiative | VIRTUAL EVENT | September 10, 2020 | 11-15h CEST
The Life Cycle Initiative will hold its Fourth Online General Assembly on September 10, 2020. It is open to all Life Cycle Initiative members.

>> Add to your calendar

The SETAC 8th World Congress I POSTPONED TO 2021/22
The SETAC 8th World Congress, was to be held from 6–10 September 2020 in Singapore, but amid the growing global public health concern around the COVID-19 virus, the organizers of the SETAC 8th World Congress are in process of rescheduling the meeting to 2021 or 2022. They are working to identify a time to hold the meeting in the future and will communicate updates as soon as they become available. The event promises to be an amazing international meeting, especially appropriate for students, young scientists and those at the cutting edge of their respective scientific fields.

>> More information

75th Jubilee Swiss LCA Forum I POSTONED TO 2021
The theme of the 75 Jubilee LCA forum is “Life Cycle Thinking = Lower Footprint?”. LCA is supposed to help us tackle the huge global environ¬men¬tal challenges, as the necessary improvements of our global environmental performance (climate, biodiversity, water, toxics, etc.) and the global trends don't yet match at all. LCA alone cannot do the trick, but we would expect LCA to be an important tool supporting economy and society to identify ways how to operate within planetary boundaries. But - is it? Which big decisions made use of LCA and lead to substantial absolute environmental improvements? And what can we learn from these cases? You are invited as participant, from industry, administration, science, or NGO to discuss:
  • How much does LCA really help in reducing pressure on the environment?
  • Which important decisions were based on LC thinking and analysis?
  • How can LCA become more effective for big & relevant issues?
>> Stay informed on the event

The 12th International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment of Food I 13-16 October 2020 I VIRTUAL EVENT
The International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment of Food is the leading conference series on sustainability of food systems worldwide. Every second year it unites 400+ scholars and practitioners from 40+ countries working in academia, industry, and public institutions.

Organized by leading research and practice institutions dealing with the sustainability improvements of food production, the Conference brings the spirit of innovation and forces research and industry to work together towards sustainable agri-food systems. The 12th International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment of Food will take place from the 13th to the 16th of October 2020 in Berlin at Ellington Hotel Berlin. This 12th edition focuses on “Towards sustainable agri-food systems” and will bring together results of sustainability research and applied activities to contributing to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It is chaired by the German Institute of Food Technologies (DIL) in collaboration with the Center for Sustainable Leadership at University of Witten/Herdecke (ZNU), corsus – corporate sustainability and thinkstep.

>> More information

Seventh edition of the Brazilian Congress on Life Cycle Management I POSTPONED TO 2021
The Brazilian Congress on Life Cycle Management reaches its seventh edition, consolidating itself as a key event regarding Life Cycle Management in Brazil. The Congress will focus on the theme “Contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals”. In addition to the academic approach, the event will also address the business use of LCA. The Congress will promote discussions around topics such as: eco-design, circular economy, life cycle management in organizations, environmental labeling, life cycle inventories, databases, etc.

>> More information

Life Cycle Job Announcements

Intern at the Life Cycle Initiative – UNEP

We are pleased to announce that the Life Cycle Initiative will soon be accepting applications for two 6-month internship posts in our UNEP Paris office, first, for the period of September 2020 – March 2021, and second, for the period March 2021 – September 2021. The intern will work under the direct supervision of the Head of the Life Cycle Initiative, in coordination with Programme Officers of the Life Cycle Unit in UNEP. The job opening will soon be announced online, so please keep an eye on our Twitter and LinkedIn social media feeds, and/or consult our website and UN Career Portal Inspira.

Senior LCA Consultant in Paris office – Quantis

Quantisians are agents of change, working to build a sustainable future. They guide top organizations to define, shape and implement intelligent environmental sustainability solutions. You’d be part of a dynamic team of ‘creative geeks’ that takes the latest science and makes it actionable. As a Senior LCA Consultant in the Paris branch, you will support the delivery of high-quality consulting services for the clients, with a focus on providing expert-level support and guidance on metric-related aspects of client projects. You will help deliver metric-based solutions to clients as well as metric-related thought leadership internally and externally.

>> More information and to apply.

UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Call for Expressions of Interest; Deadline: 20th July 2020

UNEP is looking for an Implementing Partner to provide technical support for greening small-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Georgia. As part of the EU-funded “European Union for Environment” (EU4Environment) programme (2019 – 2023), UNEP is leading a component on promoting ecological value-chains and product innovation (hereafter “eco-innovation”) among Georgian SMEs.

The national Implementing Partner will contribute to the delivery of activities under “Output 2.6 Ecological value-chain and product innovation“ as part of “Result 2: Circular economy and new growth opportunities“ under the national EU4Environment workplan for Georgia (agreed on in close consultation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture as well as the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia in early 2019).

>> More information

Ongoing call for LC Net contributions

Members of the Life Cycle Initiative, please feel free to submit your event, job vacancy, news, capacity development opportunities, topics and stories related to life cycle thinking and LCA, to be shared with the global life cycle community. We are always looking for featured coverage on the experience how life cycle thinking contributes to different policy agendas, sustainable business and decision making, in various countries and regions. You may send your content to [email protected] and copy Feng Wang. Note that we cannot accept contributions of a commercial nature. LCNet is released bimonthly in the beginning of January, March, May, July, September and November; please send us your piece approximately two weeks before the release date.

We look forward to your contributions in disseminating life cycle knowledge from global policy and business agendas!

Life Cycle Job Announcements

Thank you to the Life Cycle Initiative Funding Partners!

For more information, please visit our website or feel free to contact us by email.
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