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Life Cycle Thinking and Assessment

Brundtland Commission defined “sustainable development” as “social and economic advance to assure human beings a healthy and productive life, but one that did not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The European Council adopted and confirmed sustainable development as a fundamental objective in European Union Sustainable Development Strategy (EU SDS).

 

Building sustainable development requires profound changes in thinking, in economic and social structures and in consumption and production patterns. This means a necessary implication of scientific, technological and industrial field, and the creation of methodologies to evaluate sustainability in each specific case. Life Cycle Thinking can help improving environmental performance, social and economic benefits of goods and services considering its full life cycle, avoiding “burden shifting”. This means minimising the environmental impacts at one stage of a products life cycle while avoiding further impacts elsewhere.

 

There are several methodologies to evaluate and measure these impacts. Among them, Life cycle assessment (LCA) is very useful to evaluate and compare the environmental impacts of different systems, taking into account all stages of product life, from extraction of raw materials to final disposition as a product. LCA basically consists of a set of techniques articulated in a systematic objective procedure to identify, classify, and quantify the pollutant loads and the environmental and material resources and energy associated with a product, process or activity from conception to disposal. All these stages are called the product life cycle or more graphically, “from the cradle to the grave”.

 

As stated by the International reference Life Cycle System (ILCD), LCA can be helpful for:

-  The identification of Key Environmental Performance Indicators (KEPI) of a product.

-  Weak point analysis of a specific product or process.

-  Comparison of specific goods or services.

-  Greening the supply chain.

-  Forecasting and analysis of the environmental impact of pervasive technologies, raw material strategies, etc. and related policy development.

-   Monitoring environmental impacts of a nation, industry sector, product group, or product.

 

Our main goal is to identify possible improvements to goods and services in the form of lower environmental impacts and reduced use of the resources across all life cycle stages.

 

Results and on-going research coming from this project can be found in the publications page and in the following collaborative projects, conferences and workshops:

 

Collaboravorative projects

  • Use of waste keratin as reinforcing fibers for the production of biodegradable composite materials environmentally friendly. Funding: MAT2010-17057 (MICINN), 2010-2013.
  • Evaluation of environmental impact polypropylene fabrics for upholstered sofas. Comparative analysis with cotton. Funding: CREVIN

Conferences & Workshops