HOW TO GO ABOUT IT
N.B. These instructions assume that the activity will be completed as part of the optional workshop with staff during the Preliminary Assessment. It can also be completed as an individual activity following a similar process.
Prior to the workshop you need to prepare a copy of the Life Cycle Thinking template on a large sheet of paper (a standard A1 size flipchart sheet is best as it provides sufficient space for a small group to work with). You will also need a large space to draw on, preferably a large whiteboard.
Introduce the exercise to the participants by explaining that a key aspect of eco-innovation involves considering the sustainability impacts of a product across its lifecycle. Explain that this exercise is intended to capture the main sustainability issues that occur across the product lifecycle.
Create the life cycle inventory
Ask the participants to help you draw a Life Cycle Inventory template, starting with the main manufacturing process steps that occur within the company’s factory. For each process step make sure that you indicate what the inputs (materials, water and energy), product outputs (useful products and ‘wastes’), and emissions (to air, soil and water) are.
Once you have completed the Life Cycle Inventory template for the activities that take place within the factory, try to extend the template forwards and backwards across the value chain by asking questions such as:
- What happens to the products once they leave the factory?
- Where does the customer buy the product from?
- How does the product get from the factory to the customer?
- What happens during the use of the product?
- What happens to the product once the customer has finished using it?
- Where do the raw materials come from?
- What processes do the raw materials go through before arriving at your factory?
Use the Life Cycle Inventory template you have created to begin populating the first four columns of the Life Cycle Thinking template.
Identify the life cycle impacts and sustainability hotspots
Ask the participants to provide examples of specific environmental, social and economic impacts that are associated with the activities and emissions at each stage of the product life cycle.
Get the participants to make a note of the issues they suggest on a sticky note and place them in the relevant cell of the Life Cycle Thinking template.
Ask participants to rate each of the sustainability impacts using the scale ‘Low’, ‘Medium’ and ‘High’ impact. Tell the participants that any impact that must be controlled to comply with legislation or the conditions of a permit should automatically be given a ‘High’ rating. This is indicated in the example below by the letter in brackets, where: H= High, M= Medium, L=Low. A‘+’ sign indicates a positive sustainability impact
8. Ask the participants to decide where the sustainability hotspots are by:
- Identifying cells of the Life Cycle Thinking matrix that contain several different medium or high-rated impacts.
- Identifying activities or processes that lead to several different medium or high-rated impacts.
- Encourage the participants to identify at least two sustainability hotspots that occur outside of the company, elsewhere in the value chain.
After the workshop combine the sustainability hotspots identified from the Life Cycle Thinking workshop with the hotspots identified for the value chain during the PREPARE phase.
Once you have identified the sustainability hotspots it can be worth revisiting the output of the Life Cycle Stakeholders template as this may provide some ideas for who might help the company to address the identified hotspots.