22 April 2016

Making the sustainable choice - embedding Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) in the materials and manufacturing supply chain

A fascinating partnership between researchers at the Management School and the Faculty of Engineering led to a recent sell-out event, with industry leaders at the heart of it.

Manufacturing

A number of industry delegates from throughout Europe joined academics at the University of Sheffield for the Materials Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) Workshop, a one-day event organised jointly between the Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre (AREC) and EPSRC funded projects ‘Designing Alloys for Resource Efficiency’ (DARE) and ‘Substitution and Sustainability in Functional Materials and Devices’ (SUbST).

The morning consisted of presentations on major materials innovation projects and real industry cases, given by leading academics and representatives from industry, focusing on the current and future trends of LCA and how this can aid decision-making to achieve resource efficiency and sustainability in an organisation.

The keynote presentation was given by Louis Brimacombe, head of environmental technology at Tata Steel (pictured above left), who explained how LCA has a role in understanding the benefits of a circular economy, where not only environmental considerations but also the social and economic performances of a material are crucial for making sustainable decisions.

Following his presentation, Louis Brimacombe (pictured above) said: “LCA is core in achieving sustainability across supply chains. It not only helps industry makes informed decisions, but identifies where we can improve resource efficiency, sustainability and circular economy.”

During the afternoon, delegates split into working groups to discuss current issues including: why current materials life cycle is not sustainable; how science and research can help to make it more sustainable in the future; the stakeholders who should be involved, and the support and resources required to achieve this. Feedback from this session introduced some exciting new ideas and concepts.

At the end of the workshop one of the main organisers of the event, Professor Lenny Koh from Sheffield University Management School, who is also the director of AREC, said: “This event, which delegates agree should become annual, has evidenced the important role and influence of supply chain LCA in resource efficiency and the sustainability of materials supply chains in flagship projects at the University of Sheffield, including DARE, SUbST and SIMULIFE. LCA must be designed into the development stages of any new materials or products/services to search for the most sustainable option before scale-up. For existing materials, products and services, their life cycle must be continuously assessed through LCA.”

For information on the following, email:
AREC and LCA: Lenny Koh (s.c.l.koh@sheffield.ac.uk)
DARE: Mark Rainforth (m.rainforth@sheffield.ac.uk) or Jean Simpson (jean.simpson@sheffield.ac.uk)
SUbST: Ian Reaney (i.m.reaney@sheffield.ac.uk)

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