Life Cycle Assessment: evaluating each product’s overall environmental impact
To improve its products’ environmental performance, the Arkema group uses a standardized and widely known method: Life-Cycle Assessment.To enhance it, new approaches, new indicators are tested.
The environmental impact of the Arkema group's products is evaluated by Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) "cradle-to-grave". It takes into account every phase of a product's life from raw material extraction to ways of disposal. Arkema furnishes to its clients LCA analysis "cradle-to-gate", understand from raw material extraction to coming out of the plant, which enables them to realise complete LCA from cradle to grave.
LCA expertise is based at the centre de recherches Rhône-Alpes within the Pierre-Bénite industrial complex. The method helps the Group gear its research effort toward optimizing the environmental performance of its products and processes.
A multi-criteria assessment
Greenhouse gases, energetic demand, soil use and many others are a part of the numerous assessments' criteria.
The environmental footprint is thus drawn in its whole part. LCA strenghtening the efforts in the reduction of this footprint towards the biggest impacts while detecting eventual impact's transfers. For example, a reduction of greenhouse gases emissions could lead to an increase in water pollutant emissions. Those transfers' calculation help taking a decision.
Customers using Arkema's products may request a study on a particular life-cycle phase such as production. It serves to the LCA of their own product.
A method conforming to international standards
The Arkema group’s methodology complies with international standards (ISO 14040) and follows the guidance documents of the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) published by the european commission.
LCA is a tool that enables the Arkema group to:
- give its customers solid information concerning the environmental performance of its products, thus enhancing their value,
- provide a decision-support tool for company management, to inform its strategic analyses (R&D orientations, process improvements, etc.),
- convey to employees a culture based on a holistic approach to environmental issues.
It is the Group’s goal to refine the LCA method. Some potential avenues under investigation are: adopting unprecedented approaches like creating data bases, incorporating new indicators such as the impact on water, and taking social considerations into account.
To advance this project, the Arkema group is taking part in various task forces on the subject through:
- the association chimie du végétal, (bio-based chemistry association),
- the european committee for standardization,
- the IDEEL project (Lyon Institute of non-carbon energy and eco-technologies).
The IDEEL institute was established in southeastern France in 2011.It brings together prominent organizations from industry and research (Arkema group, CNRS, GDF Suez, IFP Energies nouvelles, Technical Center of Plastics Engineering (PEP), and the University of Lyon) to develop a world-class innovation platform to develop eco-technologies, low-carbon energies, and the "low-carbon" factory of tomorrow.
Focus on the circular economy
Faced with the environmental and energy challenges, Arkema is stepping up its development in the circular economy. The objective: to shift from an impact reduction model to a value creation model.
Heike Faulhammer, Arkema Vice President Sustainable Development and Nicolas de Warren, Arkema Vice President Corporate Relations, spell out this economic model for the future.