Sustainability Assessment in Product Development: Experiences from Two Projects
Conference poster, 2011
The poster describes how sustainability is assessed in product development, drawing from experiences of two on-going projects: WoodLife and CelluNova.
The objective of WoodLife is to improve properties and increase service-life of clear coatings and adhesives for wood, and hence widen wood product’s scope of application. If this allows wood to replace energy-intensive materials or materials of fossil origin (e.g. aluminium or PVC in window frames, respectively), there is a potential to, for example, decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
In CelluNova, the aim is to develop dissolving and spinning conditions which facilitate integration of textile fiber production into pulp mills. This has the potential to be environmentally beneficial compared to today’s pulp-based textile fibers (e.g. viscose). It can also enhance the competitiveness of pulp-based textile fibers compared with today’s market-dominating alternatives: cotton and polyester fibers – fibers subject to environmental concerns and possibly future supply issues due to an anticipated rise in global textile demand.
Both projects can potentially expand the forest’s role in solving the resource problems of tomorrow and contribute to a more sustainable society. But unless sustainability parameters are monitored during product development, new unwanted sustainability issues may be introduced along the way. The assessment is founded on the methodology of life cycle assessment, social life cycle assessment and life cycle costing, reflecting the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainability, respectively. Five main challenges have been identified: communication, definition of sustainability, underdeveloped methodology, non-existence of production processes and comparison of inherently different dimensions. In the poster, these challenges are elucidated along with experiences of various approaches to tackle them. For example, an exercise on rating different indicators of social sustainability has been carried out within CelluNova. This turned out to be valuable in addressing three of the identified challenges: communication, definition of sustainability and underdeveloped methodology.
life cycle assessment
social life cycle assessment
life cycle costing