A (personal) report on the ALCAS conference
At the end of two intense and interesting days, I am once again convinced that Life Cycle Assessment is alive and kicking!
From showing the benefits of KeepCup to measuring the environmental credentials of Australian cotton to informing Greenstar certification, LCA provides robust evidence supporting many positive messages.
There were many great presentations, and I especially enjoyed the ones that were a little off the beaten track, such as a discussion of the links between LCA and Integral Theory (by Olubukola Tokede) and of the love triangle between LCA, Circular Economy and Cradle-to-Cradle (by Barbara Nebel). Who knew you could grow apple trees from dirty nappies?
Circular Economy with its metrics was a big topic, with a dedicated session and a panel discussion, but also coming up in many other presentations throughout the conference. In the above-mentioned love triangle, CE can be seen as the outgoing popular one who will take everybody along on the sustainability party, while LCA is the sensible one making sure no disasters are going to happen.
We heard from quite a number of companies, such as IKEA, Kingspan and Holcim (please note I am not pretending to be complete and I could only be in one place at the time...) about their experiences with LCA, EPD, CE and sustainability targets.
The audience of just under a 100 people was a perfect mix of students, consultants, industry professionals and researchers, which led to very lively discussions at the popular barcamp sessions on a number of crowd-sourced topics.
One conclusion was that we, the LCA experts, still need to work on a clearer separation between the number crunching and the messaging. A more adventurous choice of graphics for instance can make all the difference between puzzled faces and aha moments. The simple messages will come across, but that doesn't mean LCA itself needs to be simpler - it is the powerhouse engine and, let's face it, no one knows exactly how GDP is calculated either - but it needs a good agent. That's us!