Life Cycle Assessment: evaluating each product’s overall environmental impact

To improve its products’ performance from the environmental standpoint, the Arkema group practices Life-Cycle assessment. This standardized and widely known method allows a comprehensive approach.

To determine the environmental impact of its products, the Arkema group applies a well-known, tried-and-tested method called Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This “cradle-to-grave” approach analyzes every phase of a product’s life, from extraction of the raw materials needed for manufacture, through the production process, distribution, use and disposal at the end of its life.

 

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

The assessment focuses on several different criteria, such as CO2 emissions, ozone layer destruction, acidification of air, and resource depletion index. 

In other words, LCA provides a holistic vision of a product’s environmental footprint. To diminish that footprint, LCA findings then can be used to rank priorities and detect risks of impacts being transferred from one phase of life to another.

 

Sometimes the Group may restrict the scope of its assessments to a single phase of the life cycle, such as manufacturing. This is the case when assessments are intended for customers or industries who then incorporate the Group’s products into their own manufacturing processes, and take Arkema group LCA findings into account when conducting their own assessments.

cycle life assesment scheme

*GHG = Greenhouse Gases

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 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.