Track: A

Date: 30.08.2018

Time: 3:00 – 4:00pm

Room: Brandenburg Gate

Session 8: Applying Life Cycle Information for Communication

Presenter: Christoph Meili, ESU-services

Co-Authors: Niels Jungbluth

Households and private persons play a key role for achieving targets for a Green Economy as part of Sustainable Development. Within a study done by ESU-services levels of environmental impacts caused in Switzerland and Germany have been evaluated. Based on findings in this study, the footprint calculatore of WWF Switzerland was developed. It gives transparent information to the public about the environmental impact of individual behaviour.
Questions to be discussed during the session (or workshop):
o Which methodological choices have been made and why?
o What are the key messages for consumers
o What are key messages for environmental communicators

Presenter: Carl Karheiding, Swedish Life Cycle Center

Co-Authors: Anna Björklund, Tomas Ekvall, Karin Sanne, Emma Rex

Life cycle practitioners of tomorrow will be a more diverse group of professionals than the first generation. A couple of decades ago Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) was the concern of a limited group of experts in academia, research institutes and a few larger companies. Most members of the LC-community were known to each other and the field was limited in terms of job opportunities. Today the field has grown substantially. LC-experts are found in a range of positions in industry, consultancy, and governmental authorities. Many non-experts also come across the LC-concept at various stages in their professional life. While life cycle education for many years was a niche concern for specifically interested students, the dispersion of the LC-concept now raises different needs for education and training. Swedish Life Cycle Center, which aims at credible and applied LCT, has as one of its ambitions to meet these new needs by supporting education and training actions among its partners. The aim of our conference contribution is to describe how ongoing educational and training efforts in Sweden contribute to meet the needs.

15-20 dedicated LCA courses and a multitude of courses integrating the LC-perspective are given at Swedish universities. This gives opportunities of collegial exchange among teachers. Co-operation with industry in master degree projects is important and lays the ground for industry to recruit new colleagues.
PhD students benefit from courses where they not only learn from senior researchers but also interact with each other. Such courses gives PhD students an overview of previous and present LCA-related research. This contributes to making research more scientific in the sense that the accumulation of knowledge will be more systematic. It helps establish a network of researchers that benefit their research and careers.
Industry and authorities are in need to understand the LC-perspective. Not only environmental experts, but also several functions such as procurement, product development and marketing. It is important to offer education for professionals where they learn the basics of LCT, identify what value chain they are part of and how they can influence its performance.
LC-practitioners needs to continue receiving updates and learn about new findings within the field. Seminars, webinars, newsletters and working groups are ways to stay up to date.
There is a need to spread LCT within each organization, educate media via easily available information and inform citizens about the LC-perspective to ensure the regrowth of LC-experts of tomorrow.

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Presenter: Karen Muir, Zurich University of Applied Sciences

Co-Authors: Matthias Stucki, Regula Keller

How can we inspire people to change their lifestyle and live more sustainably? In a science communication project supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, an interactive exhibition based on the latest Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) results was developed. The exhibition increases the visitors’ awareness of the environmental impact of their lifestyle with an entertaining approach.
In the exhibition, research findings about the environmental relevance of private consumption from the Life Cycle Assessment Research Group at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) are presented in various scenes. They represent the choices we make every day, such as commuting by bike, train, or car pool? Elevator or stairs? Meatloaf or tofu curry? While going through the exhibition, visitors personalise their experience by using the accompanying Web App. This Web App, similar to a ‘personality test’ in popular magazines, can be used to record the individual habits and choices by interacting with different objects in the exhibition. According to each visitor’s choices, an “environmental personality type” is determined that outlines the visitors’ values and attitude towards the environment. At the end of the visit, personalised advice for a more sustainable way of living that fits the visitors’ personality is provided. Visitors can decide to share their anonymised data, which will allow the scientists of the ZHAW to refine their future research projects.
The exhibition is targeted at an audience with low prior interest in science or environmental issues. It offers a fun and entertaining experience with many hands-on activities, focusing more on what one can do in everyday life than on imminent dangers or gloomy consequences in the future. Special ‘meet the scientist’ events offer visitors the opportunity to challenge and discuss their choices and the resulting environmental impact with an expert. This improves the credibility and validity of the presented results. At the same time, these tours increase the scientists’ understanding of the possibilities and constraints of Swiss consumers.
The interactive exhibition allows visitors to experience the effects of their everyday decisions on the environment. Along with direct contact with scientists, this setup allows the transfer of LCA results from science to society.

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Presenter: Emma Rex, RISE Reserach institutes of Sweden

Co-Authors: Niklas Fernqvist, Sven-Olof Ryding, Carl Karheiding

Many businesses of today now recognize the need for a life cycle perspective, for use not only in accounting but also for innovative purposes. However, while availability of data and understanding of the life cycle concept as such continues to grow, there is still inertia in life cycle information having practical implications on decisions and actions in the everyday work in the company.

In a project aimed at a better understanding of company internal uses of life cycle information, the existence and use of life cycle information in four large companies (all having with extensive experience of life cycle thinking) were studied. Data collection was made in case studies with two main purposes; to a) follow and illustrate flows of life cycle information within large companies, and to b) understand the role of life cycle information in decision-making outside of the environmental departments. The case studies covered applications such as development of new product concepts, introduction of new materials, and market introduction of eco designed products and services.

The study reveals other dominant barriers than normally assumed; not having or understanding the life cycle information provided. The barriers found were rather related to other aspects of the decision process: Complementary data important for the decision (such as material availability or economic implications for alternate designs) could be missing, recommendation of the most preferred alternative not being clearly presented, concerns about e.g. increased uncertainties and risk not being met, or guidance on how to handle tradeoffs such as between economic and ecologic goals absent. Sometimes information was also not provided in the timeframe needed to change the particular process, or existing routines and tools did not allow the inclusion of life cycle information in a systematic manner.

Insights from the study point to the importance of understanding the broader context in which the life cycle information should be used, in order to reach impact as descision support. To assist in this, a short guide has been designed to support life cycle proponents in having a more holistic view of the decision making situation and to highlight common pitfalls hindering life cycle information to influence company practices.

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