PROFILE: Tim Harding, ALCAS Board Member, PIQET Product Manager and LCA Consultant at Lifecycles
ALCAS welcomes our latest addition to the Board: Tim Harding. A product manager and consultant with Lifecycles, Tim has an in-depth knowledge of LCA and carbon footprinting across a wide range of industries, including packaging, retail, biofuel and agriculture.
At Lifecycles Tim is both an LCA consultant and responsible for the ongoing development of the company’s packaging software PIQET, designed to assess the environmental impacts and resource consumption of different packaging options.
We spoke to Tim about LCA, PIQET and his vision for ALCAS.
How (and why) did you first become involved with environmental management and LCA?
As a child, my parents instilled in me a respect and care for the environment around me. We often went for walks in the bush and when we did so my dad would always pick up rubbish and bring it home. I remember my mum saving the water from the rinse cycle of the washing machine and using that for the wash cycle of the next load. At the time I thought this was a bit daggy, but those behaviours definitely had an effect on me and gave me a distinct appreciation for nature. I definitely think this pushed me to a career outside of regular commercial enterprise.
My path to LCA was influenced by my love for problem solving and optimisation. I basically see sustainability as an optimisation issue – an issue of resource inefficiency. To me, unsustainable behaviour is inefficient behaviour and I hate to see it. The first step to improving it is to identify it, and that is where LCA comes in.
I also love to learn, so project-based work in LCA offers a constant stream of new topics to learn about in detail.
You are the product manager for lifecycles packaging software PIQET, can you tell us a bit about the product and your involvement?
PIQET, the Package Impact Quick Evaluation Tool, is an online tool developed by Lifecycles to provide streamlined LCA modelling to the packaging industry. It helps organisations make better choices by making LCA more accessible.
Tim Grant, the director at Lifecycles, has been operating and improving PIQET for over seven years. His workload already involves managing his consultancy business so the added workload of PIQET is excessive, hence the desire for a product manager who can give PIQET more attention. I came on board in March and we’ve been working to improve PIQET since then.
As an LCA Consultant how are you working with clients to achieve better environmental outcomes?
Our LCAs provide clients with the insights they otherwise wouldn’t possess. With better insights into their impacts, they can make better decisions that are less impactful on the environment. This is the typical state of LCA. Recently, I’ve been trying to provide insights into areas outside of the traditional LCA impact indicators. Social impacts are a growing area and one that I’d like to focus on in the future.
You have recently joined the board of ALCAS. What role would you like to see ALCAS play in the future?
I see LCA as the gold standard in understanding environmental impacts and in assessing sustainability. In my perfect world, LCAs would become a compulsory requirement in most large political and corporate decisions and initiatives. This is impractical of course!
So, on a more realistic note, I’d love to see the prominence of LCA rise appreciably in the wider community. That’s not an easy thing to do and I don’t have the answer to how we can bring that about. ALCAS is full of great members so I’m sure there are some great ideas out there.