EcoDesign: The future of Life Cycle Assessment in sustainability

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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is on the lips of world experts across the sustainability sector. Our team shares how it will impact the future.

What is LCA and why is it crucial for a sustainable future?

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is on the lips of world experts across the sustainability sector. It has emerged as a powerful tool for understanding and reducing the environmental impact of products, processes, and services.

2023 has been a pivotal year for sustainability initiatives. We saw this at the 11th International Conference on Life Cycle Management (LCM) in September, where Schneider Electric experts shared their work and knowledge with participants from the industry, academia, and the public sector.

LCA is a standardized methodology that follows the ISO14040 and ISO14044. It assesses total environmental impact during a product’s entire life cycle — from extraction of raw materials to manufacturing, distribution, use phase, to the end of its life.

Assessments like this allow comparisons between products.

Data has become a key differentiator. LCA practices have evolved, with databases now providing better data and results. External stakeholders are paying more attention to environmental impact as part of their ESG strategies, and LCA results are crucial to sustainable decision-making.

At Schneider Electric, we’re aiming for more efficient and less complex calculations, covering a larger share of our portfolio.

Our main goal is delivering the best and most sustainable products. To do so, we ‘EcoDesign’ our products and systems. In 2008, we launched our internal label, Green Premium, to meet customer demand for transparent environmental data. More than 75% of Schneider Electric’s products are Green Premium.

Increasing demand for environmental data means we’re now shifting to a world where LCA becomes critical, and where tools to automate LCA calculations can help even non-experts evaluate and reduce the impact of their products. We had the opportunity to share our improvements on this topic during the LCM conference.

Manel Sansa, our LCA leader, presented Schneider Electric’s journey toward LCA automation during a session entitled “Digitization of Product Environmental Information”

Manel Sansa, our LCA leader, presented Schneider Electric’s journey toward LCA automation during a session entitled “Digitization of Product Environmental Information”, which was chaired by our Environmental Impact Director William Lepercq, in collaboration with the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology. The session explored how automation lets Schneider Electric create quality and dynamic environmental product data. Other presenters highlighted the benefits of digitization to improve data quality and accessibility through artificial intelligence. They also underlined the importance of data exchange between stakeholders for better transparency.

Benjamin Canaguier, our ecodesign director, explained the basics of module D: the assessment of a product’s potential recyclability.
Benjamin Canaguier, our ecodesign director, explained the basics of module D: the assessment of a product’s potential recyclability.

Benjamin Canaguier, our ecodesign director, explained the basics of module D: the assessment of a product’s potential recyclability. This was introduced in the fourth edition of the product category rules for electrical, electronic, and HVAC-R (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration) products. Importantly, applying module D influences how environmental impacts are calculated in other life cycle stages. Benjamin also reflected on 20 years of EcoDesign at Schneider Electric.

EcoDesign
Amelie Barahona, our circular economy innovation leader, presented on indicators to assess the end-of-life benefits of a product

Amelie Barahona, our circular economy innovation leader, presented on indicators to assess the end-of-life benefits of a product. To support the design of our products and make appropriate decisions, LCA should not be limited to the carbon footprint, but extended to evaluate other attributes like the presence of the battery, critical components, or the recyclability rate of the product.

EcoDesign
Violaine Ohl-Gasteau, general delegate of the PEP Eco passport association, presented the main activities and collaboration of the members to elaborate the Products category rules, the presentation showcased the importance of collaboration between industrials to better address evolving regulations.

Finally, Violaine Ohl-Gasteau, general delegate of the PEP Eco passport association, presented the main activities and collaboration of the members to elaborate the Products category rules, the presentation showcased the importance of collaboration between industrials to better address evolving regulations.

Conclusion

What is clear from these discussions with stakeholders, partners, and other experts is that LCA is key to monitoring and lowering the impact of our products, processes, and services.

By doing it properly, the full transformative benefits of LCA is clear. That means process digitalization, greater value chain transparency, and the delivery and sharing of high-quality environmental product data.

Let’s continue working together on delivering this vision.

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