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Case study

Climate-Forward Portfolio Analysis: 3A Composites’ LCA Journey with Ecochain

To continue leading their market, 3A Composites will require climate impact data on their products for years to come. Their journey with Ecochain Helix started with a pilot project - and resulted in impact data on their main products!

3A Composites is a specialist producer of premium plastic sheets, aluminum composite materials, and paper- and foam boards. With these, they serve industries primarily in Europe, including architecture, display & graphic arts, and industrial applications. While the company operates globally, the Europe-and-Africa division initiated the collaboration with Ecochain for their European production sites. The highlights of this LCA project are:

  • A pilot project demonstrated Helix’s bulk-LCA capabilities
  • Based on the pilot, 3A Composites’ employees modeled the remaining sites.
  • Annual sustainability improvements are accounted for through integration with environmental management systems

Sustainability Imperative: 3A Composites’ Drive for LCA in a Changing Landscape

Being a frontrunner in the market, 3A Composites is acutely attuned to the requirements of its customers. The company recognized a growing demand for environmental data, particularly regarding climate change impacts.

To address this, 3A Composites opted for a comprehensive, portfolio-wide Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) using Ecochain Helix. The aim was to provide solid global warming impact information for their main products.

We recognized a growing demand for environmental data from our customers and therefore opted for a comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) using Ecochain Helix. The software helps us to effectively demonstrate the progress made in reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions, aligning with their overarching goal of achieving net-zero CO2 emissions across production sites until 2035.

Haro Coolen, Sustainability Director at Schweiter Technologies & 3A Composites Europe

Executing the comprehensive Portfolio Life Cycle Assessment

Ecochain’s environmental specialists demonstrated Helix’s bulk LCA capabilities by modeling a pilot site for 3A Composites. The success of this demonstration led to the adoption of Ecochain Helix for the entire LCA project.

Their Director of Innovation, along with two colleagues, then replicated the pilot model for additional factories. This learning journey allowed the team to refine their LCA skills and enabled 3A Composites to execute the bulk of the project with internal “people power”.

However, they were not alone on this journey; our specialist was available for questions throughout, and regular checks after the completion of a modeling phase (such as data collection, modeling, and interpretation) and at the end of the project ensuring correct implementation.

By using the EN15804 standard, the assessment methodology was aligned with LCAs and EPDs in the European construction sector. Consistency between factory models was maintained by modeling shared materials once in Helix and importing them into all models.

Using Helix’s ABF approach resulted in assessments of 3A Composites’ main products. (Sub-products as well  as variations in color or thickness, were not individually assessed due to the complexity of on-site data collection. They are assumed to be sufficiently represented by the generic product types.)

 

Image 1: Colorful plastic sheets in an artful application.

Data collection from existing environmental management system

An ISO14001-compliant environmental management system was already in place before the LCA project. It provides annually updated data on water and material consumptions, waste recycling and emissions. Energy consumption is being monitored according to ISO 50001. From these systems, the data required for LCA could be swiftly collected.

Annual data updates will be integrated into Helix, and contribute to further refining of the LCA results. In this way, the LCAs reflect the latest information and performance enhancements. 3A Composites is striving for continuous improvements in its sustainability performance, which is now effectively showcased through LCA!

 

Image 2: Sustainable materials: orange and blue can be green, too. (Copyright Photo: Alex Shoots Buildings | Designer: Dominika Rošetzká, Jestico + Whiles | Fabricator: Studio Fabrik8)

Results and publication

By leveraging LCA, 3A Composites can effectively demonstrate the progress made in reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions, aligning with their overarching goal of achieving net-zero CO2 emissions across production sites until 2035.

Furthermore, the LCA process highlights raw materials as a significant impact hotspot, underscoring the importance of sustainable sourcing practices and enhanced use of recycled or bio-based materials.