Session Chair

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Session Info

Session Title: Life Cycle Innovation and Eco-Design

Date: 26.08.2020

Time: 3:15 – 3:45pm

Session Type: Discussion Session

Presenters: Max Marwede, Olivier Talon, Eleonora Foschi, Eric Mieras

Session Abstracts


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Ronja Scholz


With the decisions they take before a product is ever built, product developers and designers determine the environmental footprint of a product over its entire lifecycle. The “Development of a Transnational Learning Factory Ecodesign”, a part of the EcoDesign Circle project supported by the European INTERREG funds for the member states around the Baltic Sea, was initiated to demonstrate the themes and issues of ecological product design and the circular economy in a real-life development and production environment. The purpose was to make the effects of design decisions on the entire lifecycle of a product immediately visible. We will present the development process and the concept of the Ecodesign Learning Factory, comprising of the target group, purpose, process, setting, didactics and evaluation of the learning success. The concept and contents of the Learning Factory Ecodesign were developed in three steps: Capturing the current situation (current demand and available offerings) with e.g. stakeholder interviews in the nations bordering the Baltic Sea, developing the concept, and conducting pilots of the Learning Factory in Germany and around the Baltic Sea. The mission of the Learning Factory Ecodesign is to help practitioners and teachers in the fields of design, engineering, and business development appreciate how to design circular systems. The didactical concept is based on teaching theoretical background on eco-design and putting the insights into practice by exercising an eco-design sprint. The process combines creative methods of design thinking with the more analytical approaches common in eco-design. The Ecodesign Learning Factory was already executed and iterated over 15 times in 5 countries and reached more than 300 participants.


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Vololonirina Oly

Mohsenzadeh Elham

Gidik Hayriye

Daniel Dupont

Driss Lahem


The Interreg FWVL TEXACOV project aims at tackling human health effects of indoor exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde by developing solutions for in situ indoor air depollution, without external power supply. The technical solution being developed for this purpose relies on the use of doped titanium dioxide particles incorporated onto furnishing fabric. These doped titanium dioxide particles have a photocatalytic effect under visible light that enables converting VOCs into carbon dioxide and water.

It is one of the aims of the project to use Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools to help monitoring the innovation process. Since the beginning of the project, LCA has been used to evaluate the expected benefit of the innovation in terms of human health, due to reduction of indoor exposure of harmful pollutants and to model in parallel the implementation of the solution (fabric production, active particles production and padding functionalization process, use phase…). This approach enables to compare the benefits – avoided impacts – and the adverse effects – additional impacts – induced by the proposed solution.

The Life Cycle Inventory of a polyester curtain functionalized by doped titanium dioxide particles was modelled, encompassing raw materials, production steps, distribution, use phase and end-of-life. Several scenarios were tested for the use phase thanks to parameterization of the model in terms of ventilation and conversion efficiency for a limited list of VOCs. The risk and consequences of human exposure to nanoparticles emissions during production or use phase was also considered. For human health impact assessment, a method including specific characterization factors for indoor exposure to pollutants was used.
So far, all results showed satisfactory trends, with the confirmation of a significant benefit in terms of human health and adverse induced impacts that appear to be negligible in comparison. Some environmental hotspots were however identified in the production of the solution, thus evidencing leads for relevant impact optimization.


[1] – ROSENBAUM Ralph K., MEIJER Arjen, DEMOU Evangelia, et al. Indoor air pollutant exposure for life cycle assessment: regional health impact factors for households. Environmental science & technology, 2015, vol. 49, no 21, p. 12823-12831.
[2] VAN DER VELDEN Natasha M., PATEL Martin K., VOGTLÄNDER Joost G., LCA benchmarking study on textiles made of cotton, polyester, nylon, acryl, or elastane, Int. J. Life Cycle Assess., 2014, vol. 19, 331-356.
[3] TSANG Michael P., SONNEMANN Guido W., et al. Modeling human health characterization factors for indoor nanomaterial emissions in life cycle assessment: a case-study of titanium dioxide, Environmental Science: Nano, vol. 4, no 8, 1705-1721


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Alessandra Bonoli

Francesco Di Maio


The plastic value chain is faced multiple challenge to make more sustainable production and consumption patterns. Many critical issues affect the recycling and re-manufacturing processes. The increasing complexity in design, the lack of recycling infrastructure and the weak market of secondary plastics (SPs) have been contributing to the inefficiency and mismanagement of End-Of-Life (EoL) plastic goods. Closed-loop recycling is most practical when recyclability is considered in the design phase. The redesign of the plastic_based system is one of the major issues discussed by the European Commission (EC) nowadays. EC has highlighted plastics as strategic materials in the Closing the Loop Action Plan becoming the key topic in the European Strategy for plastics in a circular economy. Since each EU Member State (MS) has to transpose the European Directives in two years, an incisive maneuver is essential to push the plastic economy towards sustainability and circularity. The present work adopts a systemic approach going beyond the manufacturing stage of a product and embracing the whole life cycle. Potential recycling and recyclability of plastic packaging has been deeply investigated in order to overcome the limitations related to the low value of plastics reprocessing, the low income of secondary market and therefore the low diffusion of an after-use plastics economy. The challenges involves not only technical and technological aspects but also legislative ones; economic and social factors have also considered to create a wider and systemic impact. The experimentation is intended to have a supporting function in improving recyclability in one side and recycling (and circularity) in another. The closure of the loop is estimated through the value_based circularity indicator aimed to push high quality of post-consumer recycled (PCR) resource. The increase in value will boost the upcycling and in particular the use of recycled plastics in high-value applications fostering the after-use plastics economy.


Asheim, B. T., & Gertler, M. S. (2009). The Geography of Innovation: Regional Innovation Systems. In The Oxford Handbook of Innovation.

Di Maio, F., & Rem, P. C. (2015). A Robust Indicator for Promoting Circular Economy through Recycling. Journal of Environmental Protection.

Iacovidou, E., Velis, C. A., Purnell, P., Zwirner, O., Brown, A., Hahladakis, J., … Williams, P. T. (2017). Metrics for optimising the multi-dimensional value of resources recovered from waste in a circular economy: A critical review. Journal of Cleaner Production.

Lazarevic, D., Aoustin, E., Buclet, N., & Brandt, N. (2010). Plastic waste management in the context of a European recycling society: Comparing results and uncertainties in a life cycle perspective. Resources, Conservation and Recycling.

Paletta, A., Leal Filho, W., Balogun, A.-L., Foschi, E., & Bonoli, A. (2019). Barriers and challenges to plastics valorisation in the context of a circular economy: Case studies from Italy. Journal of Cleaner Production.


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LCA has always been the domain of experts. That has led to very valuable insights in the impacts of entire value chains. That knowledge is increasingly recognized by professionals from other fields. But how can we leverage that profound expertise from these LCA Experts? As we’re with a few thousand experts and billions of products we have to find a way to scale up the availability and use of Life Cycle Information. Building on the insights shared at the LCM Conference examples of how this can be done in practice will be shared.

Actionable insights
A key aspect is that insights have to be actionable. Insights that people cannot act upon are not relevant. Providing people with these facts in a relevant way will empower people to take action. There is a lot of energy and drive around sustainability and people are motivated to contribute to this shared purpose. Having these insights allows them to move from gut-feeling to fact-based decision making and action. In this presentation examples of how insights can be made actionable for designers, logistics, purchasers and packaging will be presented.

Move fast
Another crucial element is to move fast. That requires that these insights are based on the same underlying model, so the most important and time-consuming work does not have to be done again and again. Instead of making a report available, you can make the results available through modules that allow users to compare, monitor and report on the results by changing the variables that are relevant for them. These modules are set up by the expert that also builds the underlying model to make sure the results are robust and trustworthy. Use cases will be presented on how one model is used by many users and for many different purposes.

Grow as you go
Of course, there’s always the challenge of making it as advanced as possible. Over the past years we have learnt to keep it simple at the start and focus on the most material aspects. This allows you to learn by doing. That will bring up new questions that can be embedded in the model and thus making the model and solution more advanced instead of overwhelming people with too many choices from the start. Keeping it simple at the start will actually speed up the (learning) process later on. We will share our experiences from projects where we applied this for environmental performance assessment in case of tenders, product portfolios, design and reporting. Not for one product or company, but from hundreds to thousands of products and users.

Key take out
The key take out of this session will be how an individual expert can leverage and unlock the value of her or his work by digitizing the outcome and make it available to a much broader audience.

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