Benefits and challenges of streamlined life-cycle assessment for SMEs - findings from case studies on climate change impacts

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/307546

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Niemistö, J. et al. 2019. Benefits and challenges of streamlined life-cycle assessment for SMEs - findings from case studies on climate change impacts. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology 26 (7): 625-634. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504509.2019.1646344

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Title: Benefits and challenges of streamlined life-cycle assessment for SMEs - findings from case studies on climate change impacts
Author: Niemistö, Johanna; Myllyviita, Tanja; Judl, Jáchym; Holma, Anne; Sironen, Susanna; Mattila, Tuomas; Antikainen, Riina; Leskinen, Pekka
Date: 2019-11-27
Belongs to series: International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology 26 (7): 625-634
ISSN: 1350-4509
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/307546
Abstract: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have a substantial role in the economy and job creation, but they are a remarkable source of environmental impacts. SMEs often lack skills and resources to compile environmental impact assessments; Streamlined Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) can provide efficient tools for this. An application of streamlined LCA relying heavily on database data, LCA clinic, was developed and tested on 23 SMEs in Finland. The climate change impacts were mainly caused by the production of raw materials, electricity and heating, whereas packaging and transportation were not influential. A significant amount of emissions were indirect, i.e. caused by production of raw materials. Thus, decreasing emissions from raw material production or selecting raw materials with a smaller environmental load could be a more efficient way to decrease emissions than reducing direct emissions such as those from electricity use. Lack of data in the LCA-databases was considered a challenge. An access to regionally customised datasets is important for the implementation of LCA clinics. Company feedback indicated that LCA clinics were useful in climate-friendly product design and increased environmental awareness, but did not lead to immediate actions to reduce emissions because of inadequate investment capabilities. Company managers had limited possibilities to use the results in marketing as comparative assessments would require a full LCA. Many company managers were willing to pay a fee sufficient to cover the costs of an LCA clinic, but some considered that the costs should be covered by external funding sources.
Subject: life cycle assessment
life cycle thinking
small and medium-sized enterprises
carbon footprint
eco-design
climate change
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