Life cycle assessment
A holistic approach to measuring sustainability
In Life Cycle Assessment, the total impact that products have on the environment – from cradle to grave- are calculated and assessed. In doing so here at DSM, we focus on four key sustainability pillars: safety, eco-efficiency, bio-based nature and recyclability.
This delivers clear, measurable and holistic information about the environmental footprint of DSM’s solutions. It makes it possible to provide customers with sound, reliable primary data that they can use to make their own calculations, apply for certifications, validate marketing claims, create Product Environment Profiles (PEPs), and generally make sound business decisions in terms of sustainability.
Evolution of a competence
Impartial measurement is at the heart of LCA, and DSM has been expertly monitoring its operational impact on water, emissions and other areas for generations. As industry began demanding more extensive sustainability insight, data and standards, DSM’s tracking and predictive abilities in this area rapidly evolved into a professional and respected LCA competence.
Today, LCA competence management takes place at corporate level, with an LCA expert assigned to each business unit. At DSM in engineering plastics, the competence encompasses high-level expertise in chemistry, process engineering, polymer application and production, and modeling and simulation – all supported by state-of-the-art software, databases and methodologies. DSM’s resident LCA expert, Sustainability Engineer Irene Colicchio, researches hotspots, interprets results, and works closely with customers to ensure they get maximum value out of our LCA insight and expertise.
LCA in practice
DSM makes constant use of the LCA competence in developing and refining its product portfolio. This has made it possible to deliver solutions that make customers’ products – and businesses – safer, greener and more sustainable in every way. A recent example is a new thermally conductive polyamide that enables the replacement of aluminum in LED downlight components, resulting in a significant reduction of the eco footprint.
Towards a better industry and society
Our LCA expertise is also helping to increase sustainability across the industry – and therefore society as a whole. Active LCA-related engagement with suppliers and customers is creating more credible and trustworthy value chains. DSM is a member of the Life Cycle Task Force of PlasticsEurope, in which we participate in the development of Ecoprofiles. These high-quality Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) datasets – reported as industry averages – allow governments, academia and designers to model their own processes and make informed decisions.
Initiatives that deliver
DSM is also a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and a co-founder of the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics. In both of these networks, we pursue the creation of a sound and harmonized methodology for social metrics measurement. Results of these initiatives to date include the Handbook for Product Social Impact Assessment and Life Cycle Metrics for Chemical Products.
All of these informational activities are ultimately designed to help stimulate and firmly embed the sustainable LCA thinking and approach throughout the E&E sector.