⏱️ Now’s the time to make Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) an integral part of your sustainability program

In today’s dynamic business environment, sustainability is not just a buzzword – it’s an imperative. With European standards such as CSRD, ESPR, and CSDDD setting rigorous benchmarks, companies are compelled to reassess and reimagine their sustainability strategies, taking them from being a separate initiative into being part of their ongoing operation. At the core of this re-evaluation is the indispensable Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), guided by ISO 14001 principles, designed to meticulously examine the environmental footprints of products and services.

In this era of urgency, where environmental consciousness is paramount, businesses face the challenge of navigating complex regulations and evolving sustainability landscapes. Traditional approaches, often rely on LCA experts/consultants and are complex, expensive, slow, and unscalable.

Trend: Internalizing Sustainability Knowledge

The need for product companies to make life cycle assessments a core part of their business becomes evident, especially considering that more than 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions stem from products.

Understanding the critical role of products in determining a company’s overall impact, it is imperative to acknowledge that up to 95% of the total impact of any manufacturer or product brand is determined by their products.

Moreover, around 80% of a product’s impact is shaped during the design phase, emphasizing the significance of early insights. In a world where 70-80% of an entire company’s footprint arises from the supply chain (scope 3), companies must proactively address sustainability at every stage.

Challenge: Outsourcing and Rigidity

Historically, Life Cycle Assessments have been in existence since the 1960s but have predominantly been outsourced to external consultants, resulting in extensive reports that can be expensive (ranging from 15,000 to 100,000 Euros per LCA-product-SKU) and inflexible. The demand for LCAs at the product level is growing, underscoring the need for companies to internalize this knowledge. According to Gartner® Sustainable Procurement Pulse Survey, “36% of procurement leaders are using data on product-level emissions today, while 47% plan to do so during the next three years. One company’s advancement on LCA can trigger advancement among multiple companies that it supplies, making virtuous cycles a possibility.”**

The landscape is further shaped by EU regulations such as Green Claims, the Ecodesign directive, and the recent ESPR. The latter, published in March 2022, is a cornerstone for achieving more environmentally sustainable and circular products. It establishes a framework to set ecodesign requirements, including carbon and environmental footprints, a crucial aspect of a comprehensive sustainability approach.

The path forward necessitates a departure from traditional norms. Sustainability is no longer just a compliance requirement; it is a strategic investment that shapes industries globally. Businesses must embrace innovation rooted in environmental stewardship, acknowledging that sustainability is not an option but an imperative.

5 key factors to look for when getting started with LCA/footprinting:

 Scalability: Ensure adaptability to evolving business needs, allowing for seamless growth integration.
●  Speed: Prioritize quick and efficient assessments to align with the dynamic pace of industry changes.
●  Accuracy: Choose tools and methods that ensure precise assessment of environmental impacts, facilitating informed decision-making.
●  Cost-effectiveness: Opt for solutions that make sustainable practices financially viable for businesses of all sizes.
●  Access to impact data: Seek resources that provide comprehensive access to secondary impact data, if you don’t possess primary impact data.

Mobius, Ecochain’s premier LCA software, simplifies decision-making, with its user-friendly interface and extensive database, enabling swift product impact assessments. Addressing key factors for LCA/footprinting initiation, Ecochain Mobius ensures scalability, speed, accuracy, cost-effectiveness, and access to comprehensive impact data.

The shift towards in-house empowerment for sustainability is a journey that companies must embark upon. As regulations tighten and stakeholder expectations heighten, the ability to navigate these complexities independently becomes a strategic advantage. Sustainability is not just a destination; it is an ongoing commitment, and companies must be equipped to lead the way.

 

**Gartner, Predicts 2024: Paving the Way for Long-Term Progress in Sustainability, By Aapo Markkanen, Kristin Moyer et. al., 18 December 2023. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Author image Dr. Pratik  Gholkar PhD
Author
Dr. Pratik Gholkar PhD

Pratik is an LCA research lead at Ecochain. With an interdisciplinary background spanning biotechnology, biochemical engineering, and chemical engineering, Pratik brings a unique perspective to the sustainability assessment. He earned his PhD in chemical engineering from IIT Bombay, India, and Monash University, Australia, focusing on renewable energy generation and sustainability. Pratik's commitment to advancing sustainable solutions resonates through his impactful contributions to academia and the sustainability industry.

All posts by Dr. Pratik