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Edge Environment Connects the Dots for Sustainable Change

Founded almost 15 years ago, Edge Environment is now a multi-national, full-service sustainability consultancy with offices in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Chile. The company provides strategic, scientific and communications guidance to over 300 clients around the world, helping them to embed sustainability into the organisational DNA.

The company practices what it preaches. A registered B Corp, with verified Science Based Targets, they are striving to become a zero-waste business. They are active contributors to their profession, holding memberships with the Infrastructure Sustainability Council, Green Building Council, New Zealand Green Building Council, Life Cycle Initiative, United Nations Global Compact and, of course, ALCAS. CEO and Co-Founder Jonas Bengtsson is a past President of ALCAS and currently sits on the Board of Directors.

We spoke to Jonas about the growth of Edge and the role of LCA in delivering their many services.

Edge Environment was founded in 2008, and almost 15 years later you have a team of almost 100 people working across Asia-Pacific and the Americas. Can you tell us a bit about your growth and how this aligns with your original vision when you started?

There has been massive increase in interest and ambition to take action on climate change, circular economy and sustainability more broadly. Edge being one of few consultancies focussed only sustainability is very well positioned to help our clients create value from tackling what is now recognised as being the world’s more fundamental challenges: creating truly sustainable economies and societies.

Gradually, we have added a number of new consultants to the team, new offerings and expanded into North America, Latin America and New Zealand. We now have close to 100 people working at Edge. You can see our growth stats here.

We want to be a global consultancy that connects all the dots required for sustainable change. We link organisations’ aspirations and landscape with the greatest possible opportunity for positive impact open to them. More specifically, we connect science with pragmatic strategies and human-inspired storytelling for accelerated impact. And we connect our clients with whatever they need to scale their impact such as resources, partners, education, tools and technology.

Edge now offers a very wide range of sustainability services ranging from strategy to communications and from ethical procurement to climate resilience. What role does LCA play in your many service areas?

LCA and a science-based approach has always been at the core at Edge. The way we use LCA has changed over the years, from being done as a stand-alone activity to understand environmental footprints and hotspots, benchmarking and disclosing environmental facts, to being integrated into organisational corporate strategies, reporting and product developments. Some of the most exciting partnerships with clients are when LCA underpins an organisation’s climate action plan, circular product design, supply chain engagement and product positioning and branding.

It's changed from us proposing LCA as part of the solution for our clients, to them asking us for “the LCA on the problem”. The LCA team at Edge is now in high demand to integrate with and support almost all projects we do with our clients, compared to 10 years ago when it was largely applied in isolation.

We’d love to meet your LCA team. Can you give us an overview of the team?

In our global LCA practice group, we have 20 team members working practically with LCA in various applications, and half of that group is more or less full time focussed on LCA. The team has an impressive and varied background, ranging from doctoral degrees in chemistry and engineering, to careers in actuary, manufacturing, architecture and agronomy. What brings us together is a passion for sustainability and innovation, finding collaborative solutions and a general sense of mutual respect and humility.

There isn’t space to introduce you to everyone, but let me highlight our three regional leaders and it will give some idea of the diversity of our team:

Mariana Aguirre Brockway | Senior Consultant | Latin America

Mariana studied to be an Agronomist in Chile, so she is particularly oriented to farming and agrifood industries. She later achieved an MSc in Climate Change Finance and Investment from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and has established expertise in LCA, EPDs, sustainability standards, protocols and best practices.

Sazal Kundu | Senior Consultant | Australia

Sazal is a Chemical Engineer with extensive experience in waste management in the manufacturing sector. His PhD is in refrigerant waste and prior to joining Edge, he worked in industry engagement at RMIT University in Melbourne.

Xinyue Zhang | Sustainability Consultant | North America

Xinyue earned her Bachelor of Engineering in China and went on to complete a Master of Science degree in Environmental Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston. She is passionate about problem solving and brings her considerable skills to finding the best science-based solution for the challenges our clients face.

Edge has been a corporate member of ALCAS since the beginning and you are a past president of the organisation. What role has ALCAS played in advancing the sustainability cause? Has your membership had any positive impacts for your business?

For us to support both the Australian and New Zealand LCA societies is the most natural thing. ALCAS has a very important role to play to bring practitioners and collaborators together to raise the profile of LCA and advance best practice and the necessary infrastructure of LCA, such as AusLCI. The direct benefits for the business are from the training, conferences, practitioner certification and free access to AusLCI.

That said, there is so much more ALCAS can and should be doing, especially now that LCA is adopted very broadly. There is a massive demand for more practical guidance, tools and data. Although ALCAS cannot (and should not) provide all of this, we have a responsibility to be the central organisation to help educate and advocate for LCA being applied with scientific integrity, and to participate in and inform strategic and leading initiatives, especially in rapidly developing life cycle carbon and circular economy initiatives and applications.

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