Knowledge mining guidance

There are hundreds of existing LCA studies that, taken together, represent a significant base of knowledge that can be tapped into. The aim of this flagship project is to provide a methodology for mining knowledge from these LCA studies, using a pilot study to demonstrate the value of this process (food packaging sector). Can we use the review and analysis of existing studies to identify critical messages or themes that might inform policy makers in government and industry? What can be learned from these studies with regard to how they have translated the technical and scientific information into a language that can be understood by product developers/engineers, policy makers, institutional buyers or consumers?

Rather than conduct new research, knowledge mining seeks to leverage the many LCAs that have already been conducted on a number of topics and to learn from those studies how to better design future LCAs and improve the information transfer among stakeholders. It could also assist in the identification of hotspots and key indicators and impact areas of concerned product chains.

The first product chain selected is the Food packaging sector and a report on “Analysis of Life Cycle Assessment in Packaging for Food and Beverage Applications” has already been published (November 2013). The report articulates the relevance and benefits of the life cycle approach to design, manufacturing, use and end of life management of packaging for food applications worldwide.

The main activities in 2012 are below:

Identification of key stakeholders worldwide to integrate the Stakeholder Advisory Panel of the project to guide the direction of the project, launch of the project and the participation process, literature search and analysis and review of the knowledge mining report for broad consultation.

The guiding questions when preparing the report follow below:

  • What is the value and relevance of:
    • A life cycle approach for beverage and food products and packaging?
    • Including all “life cycle stages” and the “multiple impacts” in evaluating the packaging/food systems to reduce overall life cycle impacts?
  • Examples of how the waste management hierarchy and LCA results interface/connect or contradict
  • If possible, how do lessons vary by region?

The expected activities in 2013 were the following: Dissemination of the knowledge mined and main findings of the published report to key decision makers along the agri-food chain also in emerging, rapidly growing and developing economies, with additional guidance to conduct LCAs in this area.

Main sponsors: Pepsico, SIG, TetraPak, World Steel, ACC, Amcor, ARECO, European Aluminium Foil Association (FPA), Flexible Packaging Europe, Plastics Europe.

             

Implementation partners: SETAC and UNEP in addition to the sponsors and the following stakeholders: Brazilian Centro de Technologia de Embalagem, WWF, Save Food Initiative, Unilever, Nestle, Walmart, CAPI, Ag Canada, Environment Canada, SWANA, US EPA, GreenBlue/Sustainable Packaging Coalition.