Track: A

Date: 30.08.2018

Time: 4:30 – 5:30pm

Room: Brandenburg Gate

Session 9: Driving Sustainable Consumption Through Life Cycle Information

Presenter: Sebastian Welling, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

Co-Authors: Sven-Olof Ryding

The lack of trustworthy approaches to interpret, bench-mark and compare LCA- and EPD-information has resulted in less use of LCA-data for different market applications than expected. The EU Commission has therefore taken an initiative to make further progress of LCA-methodologies with the overall goal to find ways for interpreting, bench-marking and comparisons of LCA- and EPD-information, called Product Environmental Footprints (PEF). The ambition of the Commission is to find ways of making use of LCA-information for future policies or legislation as a part of its vision to establish “Single Market for Green Products”. An important part of this work is to develop methods for bench-marking.

A trustworthy bench-marking method should ideally be based on actual LCA- and EPD data as they appear on the market. It has taken many years before EPD´s are available in sufficient number on the market to allow for robust statistical calculations giving a reliable concept for different methods for bench-marking.

The methodological approach used in this study is making use of this database for carrying-out statistical analysis to show the real distribution of environmental performance for two different product categories. Data from 54 EPDs in the product category group insulation materials and 49 EPDs in the product category group bakery products were analysed to find and investigate important aspects for the development of a bench-mark.

The results of the study show that distributions, mid- and end-points of the environmental performances differ significantly for both product categories. A common approach, i.e. using mid-point or average values for the development of bench-marks, might therefore not be accurate for the definition of an indicator to interpret and bench-mark separate LCA- or EPD-information with regard to its position in relation to the real market distribution.

The market distributions of the environmental performance are an important input for the methodological development of a trust-worthy benchmark. A suggestion of a method for the development of a market-based bench-mark is discussed with regards to statistical requirements and communication formats. The findings of this study may be seen as an input for the further development of the methodology for finding and defining a bench-mark.

EPD (2018) The International EPD System website. [Accessed 2018-03-15]

European Commission (2013) Commission Recommendation of 9 April 2013 on the use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organisations (2013/179/ EU). Official Journal of the European Union, Volume 56, 4 May 2013

European Commission (2016) Single Market for Green Products Initiative website. [Accessed 2018-03-15]

ISO 14025 (2006) Environmental labels and declarations, type III— environmental declarations—principles and procedures. Geneva, Switzerland

Presenter: Michelle Senerman, Edge Chile

Co-Authors: Mariana Aguirre, Jonas Bengtsson, Joana Almeida, Camila Ulloa, Javiera Farias

In 2015, countries adopted 17 goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda, including #12 Responsible Consumption and Production. As part of this commitment, and responding to UN’s 10YFP, the Chilean Ministry of Environment created the Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Committee, and the National Program and Action Plan on SCP to identify and track current and future initiatives in this matter. One of the main challenges of these initiatives is to encourage companies to produce more sustainably, while helping consumers to identify and prefer such products.
Unilever is an international company that incorporates sustainability as a core in its business model. As a part of its initiatives in Chile, Unilever aims to align with SCP actions to communicate with consumers. With the sponsorship of the Ministry of Environment and the support of UN Global Compact, they joined consultant Edge Chile to create a message to be incorporated in their three main detergent brands.
To understand the significance of Unilever Chile’s sustainability initiatives, this study included a life cycle assessment (following ISO 14040 and 14044) comparing detergents produced in 2017 against a previous study from 2012. The comparison extended to how Unilever’s management of hotspots has influenced the results in that period. The assessment found that Unilever is addressing product-level hotspots (particularly by eliminating phosphate of their formula) and therefore reducing the overall impact of the detergents. The management actions have been aligned with 4 out of the 8 goals included in #12 SDG, and 6 out of 12 lines of action and 18 out of 71 specific objectives of the National Program on SCP; showing the compliance of Unilever’s progress to SCP initiatives.

By using the frameworks of LCA and SCP initiatives to investigate Unilever’s product sustainability improvements, it was possible to develop scientifically sound marketing content targeting consumers. A message “Continuous Improvement in their Life Cycle” was designed to be included in the detergents, and it is expected to be in stores across Chile in March 2018.
How the consumer (and other companies) will respond to this initiative will be of great importance for future research. Additional steps should include a better definition of “relevant” progress, since only alignment and not quantitative contribution to SCP goals and objectives was done, while also the literature has not agreed on “how much” can be considered significant continuous improvement.

UN Environment / SETAC, 10YFP. (2017). Hotspots Analysis: An overaching methodological framework and guidance for product and sector level application. UN Environment.

10 YFP Consumer Information Programme. (2017). Guidelines for providing Product Sustainability Information. UN Environment.

United Nations. (2015). Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible. Obtenido de

Ministerio del Medio Ambiente. (2016). Programa Nacional de Consumo y Producción Sustentable. Santiago.

Ministerio del Medio Ambiente. (2017). Plan de Acción Nacional de Consumo y Producción Sustentables 2017-2022. Santiago.

Presenter: Katrin Bienge, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy

We present an indicator for measuring the natural resource use of private households based on micro data and discuss its suitainability with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Resource use is frequently addressed in the SDGs. Goal 12 deals with sustainable consumption and production patterns and requires the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources. The SDGs require indicators that allow differentiating for socio-economic factors and fields of consumption, for instance mobility or nutrition. Our proposal for such an indicator is the Material Footprint, which accounts for the abiotic and biotic material demand of expenditures by households. It has been quantified for private households in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Germany in three separate time frames (2003, 2008, 2013). We used the Income and Consumption Survey (EVS) of the German Federal Office of Statistics as a database and referred resource-intensity factors from multi-regional input-/output analysis (MRIO) to the expenditures in the EVS. The EVS includes eleven of the COICOP divisions (Classification of Individual Consump-tion per Purpose). In addition, socio-economic characteristics are considered. Based on this data we calculated the Material Footprint for the different fields of consumption. Results show that the overall Material Footprint of households has not changed between 2005 und 2013. However, we found significant shifts in resource use between the different fields of consumption (e.g. decrease in mobility and increase in telecommunications). There is a need for further research to examine possible causalities between these developments, for instance by analysing cross elasticities. We conclude that the developed indicator is a suitable base for measuring the resource use of private households. It allows for differentiation by socio-economic characteristics and facilitates better understanding of sustainable consumption patterns. This complies with the requirements of SDG 12.
However, more frequent expenditure surveys as well as an im-proved database for resource use appear to be crucial. The existing aggregated resource intensity factors could be further differentiated with help of life cycle inventories and methods from Life Cycle Assessments (LCA), in order to enable policy recommendations for meeting the SDG targets. This hybrid approach covers the different consumption areas in more detail (e.g. different nutritional preferences) and focuses on the services households consume (e.g. carsharing in opposition to using an owned car), rather than expenditures on products alone.

Buhl, J., Teubler, J., Liedtke, C., Stadler, K. (2016). Ressourcenverbrauch private Haushalte NRW – Explorative Analyse. Abschlussbericht im Rahmen der Förderung des Projekts „Konzeptionelle Analysen und Überlegungen zur Ausgestaltung einer Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie aus wissenschaftlicher Sicht“ an das Landesamt für Natur, Umwelt und Verbraucherschutz Nordrhein-Westfalen (LANUV). Landesamt für Natur, Umwelt und Verbraucherschutz Nordrhein-Westfalen, Wuppertal.
UN – United Nations (2015): Transforming Our World: The 2013 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Buhl, Johannes; Teubler, Jens; Liedtke, Christa; Stadler, Karin : Der Ressourcenverbrauch privater Haushalte in NRW, in uwf Umweltwirtschaftsforum, 2017, Volume 25, Issue 3-4, pp. 255-264, DOI 10.1007/s00550-017-0467-2
Teubler, J., Buhl, J., Lettenmeier, M., Greiff, K., & Liedtke, C. (2018). A Household’s Burden–The Embodied Resource Use of Household Equipment in Germany. Ecological Economics, 146, 96-105.

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