MO.3.A || Sustainable Chemicals and Materials

Igos, Elorri; Zinck, Sébastien; Gibon, Thomas; Schaubroeck, Thomas; Benetto, Enrico

For the sake of assessing the sustainability of research and technology organizations, first approach is to evaluate the impacts of operations, e.g. their carbon footprint. The assessment of the impacts of the technologies themselves, usually being developed at TRL 3 -7, is challenging due to the lack of information on their future exploitation. “Sustainability by design (SbD)” is often suggested as an approach to tackle this challenge, from the proposal definition phase to the technology transfer. It lacks however of operationalisation. In this contribution, we present the proof-of-concept of a pragmatic SbD approach, for the specific case of composite materials development, recently developed at LIST, as a seminal example for implementation in other organizations. SbD first aims at framing the degree of sustainability integration, depending on the level of sustainability objectives (e.g. expectations from the partner or funding programme) and the TRL of the technology development. The number of SbD criteria and the degree of quantification increase proportionally with these two framing parameters. Two evaluation tools are used: 1) semi-qualitative, generic and sector specific SbD criteria (e.g. life cycle energy use, avoidance of chemicals of concern, classification of polymers recyclability) and 2) quantitative simplified and specific pre-filled LCA model. In both cases, the technology performances are compared to the available market alternatives. For the LCA tool, a comparison with sectoral targets is possible (e.g. 2°C scenario for well-to-wheel emissions from passenger cars). As a result, SbD aims at identifying the technological and market conditions (e.g. minimum car mileage) which makes the technology sustainable, compared to equivalent alternatives or to absolute targets, as well as potential trade-offs to guide the future development. The SbD approach is currently consolidated, extended and operationalized based on researchers’ feedback.