LCA is a broad church, and we can all learn from the experiences and careers of our colleagues. To this end we will be profiling individual ALCAS members in this and upcoming newsletters.
We begin with Tracey Colley, who is a PhD student with the Quantitative Sustainability Analysis (QSA) unit of the Management Engineering Department at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).
When did you first become involved with LCA?
I did a course on LCA and considered using it as part of my Masters Thesis when I was studying at Monash and after I graduated I took a contract position with UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative in Paris. I was the Implementation Coordinator for a European Union project on improving the efficiency of supply chain. We provided training on water footprint, carbon footprint and other LCA related areas and worked with countries to identify what they needed to improve their LCA capacity nationally.
What made you choose Denmark for your PhD?
I had scoped out an idea for a PhD thesis focused on improving the sustainability of food supply chains. I asked a colleague with a lot of experience working with the area to recommend possible advisors. Michael Hauschild from DTU was at the top of the list. He’s been involved in the development of LCA for decades and continues to develop LCA methods.
I thought about coming home to Australia to study but the Australian government was in the process of denying climate change and cutting funding to CSIRO. That didn’t make Australia look an attractive place to study LCA.
What is your thesis topic?
I’m looking at LCA’s for SME’s in the food supply chain and considering how LCA can be used as a decision support tool to improve sustainability. My data is being drawn from a red meat processing plant in Australia. The project is self funded and aims to use a circular economy approach to strengthen regional businesses, particularly farms.
Australian farmers are already being adversely affected by climate change and the government has failed to support them. I’m looking at ways to improve the economics of the average farm by providing income diversity.
Why did you decide to join ALCAS?
I need to be able to access data and methodologies that are specific to Australia.
I intend to primarily use the ECOInvent database developed by the Swiss government. But it will be important to have access to Australian specific data and I know AusLCI has data on a number of agricultural processes.
I also want to gain an Australian perspective on different methodologies and assessments. I need to know the outcome of assessments that have already been done in Australia so I don’t end up repeating something that has already been done.
As a member, what would you like ALCAS to do for you?
I think the online webinars are a really good concept. It would be great for me if these could be held in the afternoons, which makes it easier with the time difference.
To be honest I haven’t been on top of everything that ALCAS are doing. But I’d like the organisation to be leading the way in moving from LCA the research sphere to the policy sphere. ALCAS could be providing commentary whenever new policy is proposed and possibly even provide analysis on different policy options proactively. We have a really great tool: let’s use it to make the best decisions.