The 11th International Conference on Industrial Ecology was held in Leiden (Netherlands) from the 2nd to the 5th July, 2023.
#Life Cycle Analyses
At this conference, many researchers presented their work involving life cycle analyses (LCAs). An LCA is a method quantifying the environmental impacts associated with a given product along its life. For example, work was presented on calculating the environmental impact of bio-sourced plastics compared with petrochemical plastics (Delft University of Technology).
Many researchers in this field use material flow and stock accounts. For instance, the keynote speaker of Day 3, Ester van der Voet, presented the inventory of in-use stocks of all materials in the Netherlands. This type of study gives us an idea of the quantities used, the nature of the materials and their corresponding uses, and the quantities that will be available as end-of-life goods in the future from a circular economy perspective (material stocks). Material flow studies can also be carried out at a much more detailed level, for instance, at the hospital level, as seen in the keynote session of Day 4. During this session on products’ eco-design, the speaker, Conny Bakker, presented how the design of products can downsize material flows (in this case, the flow studied was disposal gloves).
Let us talk about the eco-design of products. Eco-design of products aims to minimize environmental impacts throughout the product life cycle while balancing economic and social benefits. During the session, Conny Bakker has taken several examples, such as a syringe extension device in Kenya. The speaker illustrated the complexity of eco-design, which depends on a large diversity of environmental parameters, but also on how the user uses the object, which depends on their habits and the cultural and economic context.
On the final day, our team presented the work of CircEUlar’s Work Package 3, which analyses the circular behavior of companies and seeks to analyze the extent to which it can produce positive environmental results at a macroeconomic level, including climate mitigation. In particular, we are trying to identify the conditions limiting the possibility of a rebound effect from the benefits of circular economy strategies at the micro level.
We learned a lot from this conference. Thank you Leiden 2023!
By Eugénie Joltreau – CMCC