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Life Cycle Thinking and Practice: Garbage - In and Garbage Out (Geneen C - session 2)
- Walmart and sustainability consortium. what can a retailer do? must we dramatically simplify? Norris and incentives to cooperate around open platform. Should it be oriented to consumers vs. value to corporations
- with t-shirts, beginning to see that biggest impact is after purchase and they are being laundered at home
- sustainability platform for use by universities. boggles the mind to think about all the data required to get social or environmental footprint
- creating "a number" is complicated - too many standards. need "a number" that is drillable so you can dig into the details
- starting to look at LCA. have looked at it and are committed but don't have resources. haven't seen customer demand. all have different definitions, eg.. some say it means carbon footprint. looking to create corporate framework. looking for the hidden inefficiencies - operational excellence opportunity. supply chain, branding, operational excellence, innovation - touches every part of the business. requires a cross-functional team.
- interested in whether LCA is a big deal. should we pay a lot of attention. specifically re: Earthster - the focus on code and the algorithms vs. the data structure and reusability of data
- what tools to use
- where to draw boundaries around the system
- long history of LCA - same issues discussed in the early '90s. boundaries, data availability & quality, how to make sense of the data? how do we use the results to make a decision? Peer-reviewed LCA - how to use results to allow consumers to compare products.
- compared recycled vs. virgin polyster in peer-reviewed format to promote product quality.
- environmental product declaration (EPD) - Hermann Miller used it in smart chair. didn't compare to other chairs.
- timberland does labeling including social impact
- history of LCA - cloth vs. disposable diapers, paper vs. plastic, now trying implications of bio-fuels. looking for burdens, transfers of impact. e.g., coal ash, EPA rules around mercury, mercury ends up in ash, which is reused - what are impacts?
- started as a marketing tool. now has morphed.
- can i use this approach to give consumers simple information (like Ariely says they need). will it still have meaning in simple presentation? and then social side is just getting started...
- can we get down to 1 number - requires values judgements. e.g., will have to trade off emissions vs. water.
- ISO standard outlines the steps that you should do for life cycle inventory moving to LCA and guidelines for interpretation. Are prescriptive for different uses - product comparison vs.internal use. No stamp of approval on ISO. EPD is supposed to formalize "quality".
- 3rd parties are giving certification - SCA scientific certification systems
- Why do LCA? ultimately it has to pay for itself.
- what about imported products? what do we compare them to and who produces the data?
- organic cotton from turkey vs. local non-organic. how to you weigh the differences?
- what do i fix in my supply chain to have an impact? ways to prioritize interventions
- difference between environmental footprinting and LCA. makes it much more subjective - what risks do you focus on, how far up the supply chain do you go?
- using LCA a lot for education around waste management decisions - implications of "recycling"; what goes to landfill; shipping overseas and operations there; energy consumption
- how to convert into something intelligible? a piece is "rational" business decision-making. some is less-rational consumer decision-making. Easy to label. Harder to build trust around the label.
- what about UL labeling?
- is there a way to get a standard?
- working on the NAS sustainable textiles standards. ends up being lowest common denominator so everyone can pass.
- (many) standards of practice exist. many tools & proprietary datasets. need guarantees that the data is consistent. at best you can get at generalizations.
- 3 levels - the data, the analysis, the value placed on the analysis
- a lot of it comes down to transparency. e.g., timberland's label is an example.
- what would keep WMT from having a nutrition label and then a weight-watchers program to count "points"
- TS Designs has been using a nutrition label for t-shirts since before timberland. this is marketing. we do have 3rd party cert. on chemicals & dies, B-corp. State it and people can take issue with it.
- where do you start? what do you want to do - show your product is better? follow ISO standards. back-of-the-envelope assessment -> different approach. might want to look at largest part of you system.
- can you create a generally applicable label using LCA-like data that can be a guide for consumer behavior? that's what Walmart is trying to do. Is there a non-company route in? that's where original LCA guidelines came from. Still have to worry about data integrity. role and process for auditing.
- Q: what was the result of an LCA? A: look at who sponsored it. led to loss of credibility for the process and results
- internet standards are from "rough consensus and working code". is there an equivalent in LCA?
- Clean Production Action is working on wiki to compare chemicals (greenscreen)
- Databases exist, ISO has standards, public review w/i LCA community. Folks who are serious can make sure that results are reviewed.
- One of the reasons companies don't do more LCA work is they can't afford it. ~$75k per product. driving people to cheaper processes - Earthster, sustainable products. Gabi can do "screening" LCA cheaper than whole hog.
- novozyme uses simpro for "comparative" LCA. because our products are usually a replacement for another substance. do them internally. have a team of 4 dedicated employees who do LCAs.
- company added an LCA hurdle like their financial hurdle. barrier they wouldn't go below.
- implications of the supply chain - our product can't affect the industry. e.g., w/i agriculture - we're a small piece.
- have you worried about liability from knowing LCA results when standards change? not yet! scientists say send it to a 3rd party in case it comes out wrong.
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, Jan 28 2010, 2:35 PM EST
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