Jodie Bricout recently became an Australian Certified Life Cycle Executive, the first person to claim this honour. She returned to Australia last year after 13 years in Europe where she earned her Masters of Environmental Management and Protection and worked in corporate sustainability, life cycle thinking and the circular economy.
We spoke to Jodie about her career thus far, the new Australian Certification program and the future of LCA.
When and why did you first become involved with LCA?
I had been working for a few years for a regional non-for-profit in Northern France on developing ‘eco-enterprises’- businesses that offer solutions to waste, pollution, energy, water challenges. It occurred to us that we couldn’t just work on the offer, we had to develop the demand. LCA, or life cycle thinking, seemed a great way to involve stakeholders throughout the supply chain.
In 2009 we developed a platform called [avniR] (‘future’ in French) to ‘upskill’ students, researchers, consultants and businesses in life cycle approaches, and develop collaborative projects. It was such an exciting time, with the French environmental labelling scheme generating lots of interest and no one else that was actively engaging education, research, municipalities, corporates and especially SMEs.
How are you using LCA today?
It’s our core business at lifecycles! We strive to make LCA accessible, so we offer lots of training and tools to make sure our clients really understand the benefits and use the results of studies effectively. We also go from inexpensive ‘hot spot’ type studies to help companies to hone in on their key environmental impacts through to full peer reviewed LCAs for external communication.
Our recent work using LCA data in environmentally extended input output modelling to evaluate the potential benefits of a circular economy in South Australia opens up huge potential in providing insight into big picture shifts for policy makers. The results of that study are available on www.creatingvalue.net.au
You recently became the first person to become an Australian Certified Life Cycle Executive. What made you decide to undertake the certification?
Despite having worked in the field for 8 years, I have no formal qualification in LCA- it just wasn’t available as part of my degree. Also, I’m not a modeler. I help scope studies, test outputs and link in the results with our clients’ strategies, making sure we have indeed provided useful insight. The life cycle executive certification seemed a great way to validate my skill set.
How do you think this certification will benefit you?
It is assuring for clients, and to be honest it makes me feel much more confident about my own knowledge and skills to have had that external validation.
What do you predict will be the future of LCA in Australia?
Whilst we go through ups and downs as financial imperatives trump all else, I sincerely believe that environmental impact is on corporate and pollical agendas for good now.
I worry that attention still flutters between issues (renewable energy, plastics in the ocean, disposable coffee cups…) depending what documentary is aired that week. It’s so hard to get people to have a systemic view, which is why I’m a big advocate for life cycle thinking and not always selling an LCA. This is where life cycle practitioners have such a big role to play – providing insights across supply chains so that people can make decisions beyond that little piece of the puzzle they touch and feel.
But we need to stop making it sound so complicated and put LCA insight in the hands of users (e.g. through streamlined LCA tools, or linking LCA data into other management tools).
In what ways do you think ALCAS can most benefit its members?
ALCAS has an important convening role in the life cycle community. I’ve spoken at the past two ALCAS conferences and it’s been great to tap into the network and learn from colleagues.
The development of AusLCI is an incredible achievement and extending and updating it is critical to the quality of all our assessments.
ALCAS also provides a great linkage to international life cycle communities, especially through the partenership with the Forum for Sustainability through Life Cycle Innovation (www.fslci.org).