CE Delft conducts environmental life cycle assessments (LCA) of products, product groups and services for a wide range of industries, trade associations, government agencies and NGOs. A robustly conducted LCA creates insight into the environmental impacts associated with a particular product or service. To this end, data on the entire product chain is inventoried — from raw materials extraction and production processes through to transport, usage and post-consumer processing — and this information used to calculate the product’s environmental footprint. Knowing where in the chain the main impacts occur provides a starting point for making the product chain more sustainable. Another possible aim of an LCA is to compare alternatives. This could be a comparison between (competing) products or product groups, or a comparison focusing on a specific link in the product chain, comparing alternative materials, production processes or end-of-life processing options, for example.
In the LCA market CE Delft distinguishes itself by tailoring the complexity of the LCA to the issues in which the client is specifically interested. If it’s an overall picture of your product’s environmental footprint you’re after, we conduct a simplified LCA, or environmental scan . You might want to know the relative impact of transport in your product chain compared with energy consumption and waste disposal, for instance. A study like this takes little time and provides major insights for a modest budget.
In the case of a complex public debate involving major interests, we’re also well-equipped to conduct a far more extensive LCA. In that case it’s possible to work with a stakeholders’ panel and have a scientific review conducted. A recent example is our LCA on options for at-source and post-consumer separation of household plastics waste. Besides an environmental comparison of alternative processing options, consideration was also given to the effects of changing the current deposit system. Another example is our LCA for Question Mark (an app for comparing supermarket products, formerly SuperWijzer ) of 98 different meat and meat-substitute protein products on Dutch supermarket shelves.
Going one step further, you can have an ISO-certified LCA carried out in which every step is conducted according to ISO standards, with certification as the explicit goal. CE Delft has the expertise and experience to perform LCAs in accordance with the ISO 14040 standard.
Besides ISO there are a range of other international standards for performing LCAs, with PAS2050, EPE, Carbon Bilan and the CO2 Performance Ladder just some of the examples. CE Delft has experience with all these standards and can advise you on whether it makes sense to pursue this route.
Analysing the environmental profile of your product is generally the first step in an improvement process. We therefore often combine an LCA with advice on improvement based on the results and interviews with our experts and above all with specialists from various parts of your own company or organisation. At a number of companies this has already led to concrete improvement programmes encompassing the entire product chain.
It often makes sense to combine an LCA with a cost analysis, so an estimate can be made of the cost-effectiveness of alternative scenarios. A good example of this kind of approach is our study on recycling drinks cartons for the Dutch Parliament.
Although an LCA study often culminates in a report, there are other options for presenting the results. Increasingly, CE Delft is bringing LCA results in the form of a management presentation, workshop, calculation tool or complete model in SimaPro that you get to grips with yourself. Recently, for example, CE Delft created the CO2 tool for waste company SITA for use in the Benelux and Germany. At the request of Modint, the Netherlands’ fashion and textile trade organisation, CE Delft has created a tool for textiles: the Modint Ecotool.
In LCA studies a reviewer is often called in to check whether the LCA has been properly conducted, in terms of both procedure and substance. CE Delft is glad to work with reviewers and can also advise you on suitable agencies. We ourselves have extensive experience reviewing LCAs conducted by others.
We have carried out LCAs for a wide range of clients including DSM, FrieslandCampina, Sara Lee, Unilever, Eneco, Electrabel, MilieuCentraal, Varkens in Nood, FWS (Dutch trade association for soft drinks, bottled water and juices), De Nederlandse Brouwers (Dutch breweries association), Coca Cola, Oggu, SITA, Twence, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, Greenpeace, Stichting Kringloop Blik, Bont voor Dieren, Modint, Vereniging Afvalbedrijven (Dutch waste processors association) and NL Agency.