Integrating Life Cycle in the Organization

As life cycle professionals we recognize the value of LCA, but often struggle to achieve maximum value as LCA is not well integrated with our organizations’ business practices.  In this session, hear from four speakers who have successfully overcome these challenges to realize environmental and business value.  Through this session, you will learn why integration is critical; how various organizations have achieved this; what their success factors were; what they’ve learned along the way; and ultimately how to translate those lessons into action at your own organization.  Sustainability challenges require dramatic changes to our collective performance that can only be achieved if life cycle thinking becomes integrated within key organizational functions.  We hope you can join us for an interactive and engaging session on this critical topic.

Key Discussion Points:

  1. Why is it important to link life cycle activities to the organization and what are the success factors in doing that well?
  2. What have been the lessons learned in pursuing this integration?
  3. What are, or should be, the limits of this integration?
  4. What advice would the panelists provide in terms of where to start?
  5. How do you balance LC thinking vs LCA practice?


CHAIR: Naji Kasem
15:30 Chris Peterson

How much are life cycle activities contributing to your organizations top and bottom lines?

ABSTRACT. In the vast majority of organizations life cycle activities are being underfunded as their contributions to business value are not being fully recognized. The responsibility to address this sits with the LCA community – namely by translating the outcomes of our efforts into the traditional business language of revenue, cost, brand and risk. By speaking of these contributions in terms of their quantified contributions to business value and existing KPIs, we have the opportunity to unlock engagement, improved decision making, investments and ultimately reduced social and environmental impacts.

Based on a meta-analysis of the existing research and direct engagement with our clients, thinkstep has developed initial screening figures on sustainability’s contribution to business value. – Up to 3% of Revenue – Up to 4% reduction in bottom line savings – Up to 10% increase in brand value and employee attraction and retention – Up to 10% mitigation of risks

These initial estimates are based on broad assumptions and the typical performance of leaders within variety of sectors and markets. However, they provide a powerful stake in the ground for organizations to tailor to their own context, markets and products.

In this presentation, thinkstep will share the research behind these findings as well as provide guidance on how organizations can adapt them to themselves and realize the full business, social and environmental value potential of life cycle approaches. This session will appeal to LCA Practitioners, Sustainability Managers, Environmental Managers and Strategy and Planning Managers.

15:45 Sachin NandeGretchen GovoniSreepad KaranamAbhijeet Parvatker and Naji Kasem

Catalyzing Life Cycle thinking in SABIC through a “Life Cycle Simulation Game”
SPEAKER: Naji Kasem

ABSTRACT. Life Cycle Thinking is a concept that allows us to make informed choices by taking into account environmental impact at each stage of the life cycle of a process, a product or a service. This concept is fast becoming an integral part of sustainability efforts undertaken by various organizations. As a part of continuing efforts to promote this culture of Life Cycle Thinking across SABIC through learning and engagement, the sustainability team developed an interactive simulation game that introduces our employees to Life Cycle Assessment concepts. The game allows users to make different choices throughout the life cycle of an automobile, within an allocated budget. This paper describes the methods used to identify and incorporate key concepts of life cycle assessments into this game so as to facilitate better understanding of life cycle concepts in a quick and simple manner. The game is developed around an automobile case study using the .net platform. Different stages where players must make choices include raw materials, manufacturing and assembly, use phase and end of life phase. This simulation game gives the player an opportunity to compare life cycle impacts of a polymeric product to other incumbent solutions. On completion, economic and environmental scores are generated which indicate the performance of the user against a benchmark score. GHG emission is considered as the key impact factor. The scoring and results in the game are modelled around actual LCA results. This paper brings out the logic used to link cradle to grave concepts with sequential steps used for making choices throughout the game. The concluding section also discusses the overall effectiveness of this game and the opportunities to broaden the scope to enhance learning effectiveness.

16:00 Eric CerretaniClaire DooleyErin FabrisSpencer MiddletonDiana Rosenberg and Roland Geyer

Life Cycle Assessment of a Feature Film

ABSTRACT. Every year, millions of people go to theaters, watch DVDs, and stream content online. The U.S. motion picture industry has annual revenues of $31 billion, employs 375,000 people and produces of 75 feature films per year. Although some research exists on the environmental impacts of the movie industry or the viewing of a movie, current literature lacks an investigation of the full life cycle impacts of creating, distributing, and watching a motion picture.

While most LCAs assess a single, physical product, this study is novel in that it assesses a creative work that is manifested through various physical and digital formats. This research combines process-based and economic input-output analysis in order to generate inventory models for the five life cycle stages of a specific movie: Production, post-production, marketing, theatrical entertainment and home entertainment. System boundaries were expanded past studio activities to include consumer viewing and transportation behavior to more fully incorporate the film industry’s value chain. A functional unit of One Person Viewing Hour allows examination of impacts across various stages, as well as comparison across different viewing methods.

Eight impact categories from TRACI are used for impact assessment. The climate change impacts of the entire move life cycle, for example, are 119 million kg CO2eq, equivalent to powering 11,000 U.S. homes for one year. The eutrophication impacts are 334,000 kg of Neq, enough nitrogen to fertilize over 2,100 ha of corn fields. Impacts from studio activities are dominated by film production and disc manufacturing. However, the impacts from movie production, post-production and marketing are far outweighed by the impacts from movie viewing. The results also show that the environmental impacts of movie viewing methods vary by a factor of over ten.

The average American spends over half of the five hours of her daily leisure time watching movies or TV, which underscores the importance of understanding the life cycle impacts of this activity. Our research suggests that the environmental impacts are significant, but the majority of the burden lies within the viewing stages of a film life cycle. The movie industry has started to assess and manage the environmental sustainability of its activities. With its novel perspective the presented research provides critically important insights into the environmental hotspots of feature films and the possibilities to mitigate them.