How to better account for primary raw materials in your LCA

More than 40 experts – representing policymakers, academic and sustainability assessment communities, sustainability managers and practitioners and the primary production sector – met last week for the Final Conference of the SUPRIM innovation project supported by EIT RawMaterials in Brussels, Belgium.

The conference started with an opening presentation by Dr Massimo Gasparon, Innovation Director at EIT RawMaterials, highlighting the fact that raw materials have been and remain key enablers for jobs and growth in Europe. SUPRIM innovation project is supported by EIT RawMaterials, and the Final SUPRIM conference provided a good overview of the EIT RawMaterials strategic objectives.

Members of the SUPRIM project team presented the project as well as key findings. Prof. Jo Dewulf communicated the basic overview of the SUPRIM project and its objectives. Key results of SUPRIM’s search for an LCIA method for abiotic resource use were the main topics of Dr Jeroen Guinée’s presentation. This presentation, built on the results of three years’ work, which was a collaborative effort from all project partners. Data Inventories and the data concerns of geoscientists’ were presented by Mats Lindblon from Boliden and Dr David Sanjuan Delmás from the Ghent University. Johannes Drielsma, representing the European Association of Mining Industries, Metal Ores and Industrial Minerals (Euromines), presented some key achievements of the SUPRIM project: founding a common vision, accessing aligned incentives and bringing isolated sets of knowledge together.

The second part of the conference allowed for the reactions of stakeholders. In her presentation, Floriana La Marca, representing the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) of the European Commission, covered EU raw materials policies and sustainable management of raw materials in the EU from the Commission’s point of view and she spoke about the role of LCA in EU-funded research.

The following presentation by Dr Markus Berger focused on the relation of SUPRIM and UN Environment’s Life Cycle Initiative Guidance. The view of the RECHARGE (a non-profit association representing the interests of the advanced rechargeable and lithium battery industry in Europe) on a new circular economy approach for advanced rechargeable batteries was presented by Alina Lange. A different view from the wood industry was covered in the presentation of Ulrich Leberle with the main header, ‘Refining the environmental impact of fibre-based products in a circular economy’. Feedback on the SUPRIM findings from the non-ferrous metals producers and recyclers in Europe was provided by Sustainability Manager of Eurometaux, Kamila Slupek.

The final presentation, by Dr Mark Mistry from the Nickel Institute, provided answers to the question: What needs to come after SUPRIM? Dr Mistry concluded that SUPRIM has been of great added value as it has brought the discussion back to the real resource use issues of concern. SUPRIM results will be used by the industry globally to respond to feedback, resolve some implementation issues and fill data gaps.

It was a pleasure for the SUPRIM project partners to see the enthusiasm and creative thinking on display from all delegates at the end of the conference, which bodes well for the rapid roll-out of the project’s results.

Presentations and photos from the event are available on the SUPRIM website.

SUPRIM project results