Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Eco-industries and Life Cycle Thinking

SusChem and Cefic were at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) Eco-industries conference in Brussels today (15 May). Sessions covered air quality, waste management, renewables, energy efficiency and water management. SusChem activities in the water sector including the forthcoming European Innovation Partnership (EIP) were presented.

Before the start of the conference, the Cefic-SusChem stand in the exhibition area was visited by Research Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn (centre below) and Paul Rubig MEP (left) who talked with Gernot Klotz, Cefic Executive Director of Research and Innovation. A short video including the Commissioner's visit (at ~1'58") is embedded at th end of this blog article.

Opening the conference, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn said: “The eco-industry is already a major player and promises great things for our society and our economy. The Europe 2020 Strategy identifies these [eco-industry] sectors as key contributors to sustainable growth and the shift towards a resource efficient, greener and more competitive low carbon economy.” Her full speech can be found here.

Water management
Describing the chemical sector’s vital role in driving innovation in the session on water management Gernot Klotz (below) stated that “solving the water challenge was critical to enable the growth of the future bioeconomy.”

Chemistry is involved in improvements for water quality, quantity and energy efficiency. Cefic has recently launched a water issues website that explains the impact of chemical innovation on improving water resources.

The launch of the EIP on Water is very welcome and the chemical and water sectors are working very closely together to ensure that the challenge on water in Europe is addressed.

Life Cycle Thinking
Reinforcing the drive to eco-industries a new report also published today by the JRC provides key information for policy makers and business managers on how to assess the environmental impacts of products and services. It will help to pave the way towards a resource-efficient Europe and aims to help design more sustainable products. Two objectives that SusChem, in particular through its SPIRE PPP initiative, is working to achieve.

Life Cycle Thinking is key to making substantial improvements in the environmental performance of goods and services. This concept looks at the environmental impact of production, distribution and consumption activities from cradle to grave, quantifying the environmental impact of products from the extraction of natural resources to product recycling or waste disposal.

The Commission’s 2011 Communication on a resource-efficient Europe, a flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 Strategy, takes these developments to the next stage, as it promotes taking a life-cycle approach to reducing the environmental impacts of resource use in the EU. It is clearly important that a consistent analytical approach is used.

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