Towards empirically grounded guidance for resource efficiency: Applying, developing and synthesising environmental assessments
The purpose of this dissertation is to 1) formulate empirically grounded guidelines for resource efficiency and 2) test existing guidelines and heuristics in specific cases. The first aim is addressed by synthesising assessments of resource efficiency measures in literature. This revealed in what circumstances each measure can yield environmental benefits, depending on product characteristics, as well as when there are possible trade-offs and limitations. Several product characteristics were identified as of key importance for the efficacy of measures, including whether products are durable or consumable, active or passive, used for their full technical lifetime, used frequently or not and finally the product’s complexity and pace of development.
The second aim is addressed by carrying out a prospective life cycle assessment (LCA) scrutinising the expectations of metal 3D printing for reducing automotive environmental impacts. The results showed that 3D printing can potentially reduce future life cycle impacts, by allowing redesign of components for lower weight and thus lower fuel consumption. However, this is only valid with low-fossil electricity for the printing process and developments towards printing with low-impact materials like low-alloy steel.
The second aim is further addressed by testing the potential environmental benefits of alternative business models. The method business model LCA method (BM-LCA) was developed for this purpose, taking the business itself as the object of analysis. The method uses economic performance as the basis of comparison, thus allowing a business to calculate the environmental consequences of business decisions. BM-LCA was applied to an apparel company, comparing selling and renting jackets. The results show that renting enabled sustained economic performance while reducing environmental impacts. This depended, however, on the sustainability of the transport and energy systems, as well as on business model parameters like price and rental efficiency, and on customer habits.
This dissertation shows that environmental assessments can be used to provide an empirical foundation for improved resource efficiency guidelines and to test the validity of heuristics Two key contributions and innovations are emphasised. The first is the formulation of empirically grounded guidelines based on key product characteristics. The second is the formulation and testing of BM-LCA, a method for assessing decoupling business from environmental impact.
Life Cycle Assessment
Circular Business Models
Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Environmental Systems Analysis
How product characteristics can guide measures for resource efficiency - A synthesis of assessment studies
Resources, Conservation and Recycling,; Vol. 154C(2020)
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Environmental assessment of additive manufacturing in the automotive industry
Journal of Cleaner Production,; Vol. 226(2019)p. 977-987
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Böckin, D., Goffetti, G., Baumann, H., Tillman, A.-M., Zobel, T., 2021. Business Model Life Cycle Assessment: A method for analysing the environmental performance of business
Goffetti, G., Böckin, D., Baumann, H., Tillman, A.-M., Zobel, T., 2021. Using a novel LCA method for comparing business models: Learnings for business model innovation from a case study
I here explore ways of developing useful guidance that actually leads in the right direction. One way is to identify solutions that improve environmental performance by calculating products’ environmental burden. The promise of 3D printing of truck engines was found to only be realised if printing with green electricity and common materials like low-alloy steel. Many companies are looking into rental business models, so we compared if renting clothes instead of selling them can reduce environmental impacts. The study showed that it is possible, while the company keeps making the same profit. To do this comparison, we had to invent business model life cycle assessment, a new way of calculating environmental impacts of business models.
Another way to develop guidance is to go through lots of existing environmental calculations on solutions expected to be environmentally benign, to try to learn something from them collectively. From this, we formulated guidelines for working solutions for different types of products.
Mistra REES (Resource-effective and efficient solutions) phase 2
Stiftelsen för miljöstrategisk forskning (Mistra) (2019-00239), 2019-12-01 -- 2023-12-31.
Mistra REES – Resource-Efficient and Effective Solutions
Stiftelsen för miljöstrategisk forskning (Mistra), 2016-01-01 -- 2019-12-31.
Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 4926
Opponent: Assoc. Prof. Daniella Pigosso, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark