Measuring the environmental impacts of our products and technologies
Evonik's sustainability ambition is driven by the key pillars: "grow handprint", "reduce footprint" and "generate value".
Guided by the 2025 environmental target, the group is assessing and incorporating sustainability into its product solutions and technologies, with the increasing share of the Next Generation Solutions as evidence. To achieve these targets, the measurability of sustainability is essential using the best available methods, tools, and high expertise. One of such methods is the “life cycle assessment”.
Life cycle assessment is a methodical analysis of the environmental impact of a product or service with the purpose of making sustainability quantifiable. Using life cycle assessment methods, key metrics such as carbon and water footprints are generated to show environmental impacts of our business activities. Similarly, handprints are calculated in comparison with benchmark solutions to show the positive environmental benefits. Footprints and handprints together enable the monitoring and improvement of the ecological performance of Evonik’ products and technologies.
Evonik conducts life cycle assessments both at the product and technology levels. Available assessments cover existing technologies and products as well their applications. Several of these assessments have been externally verified and translated into for example Environmental Product Declarations. In addition, the impact of the whole company is measured and reported (as the Evonik Carbon Footprint) in the annual sustainability reports.
The company relies on the high expertise and the extensive operational competencies of the Life Cycle Management team to efficiently generate the required metrics to support Evonik’s sustainability transformation worldwide.
The Life Cycle Management team operates with a single aim of “creating value through sustainability”. Thus, the team both generates reliable results and participates in the implementation of sustainability measures. In over 10 years, more than 600 projects have been successfully completed across Evonik resulting in numerous certifications as well as implementation of new sustainable technologies.
The team’s operation benefits from its diverse group of engineers, scientists, and business experts. Given the growing importance of sustainability within Evonik, the team is witnessing a rapidly increasing headcount.
Principally, all life cycle assessments are based on ISO 14040 and 14044. Further guidance documents are tied to the goal of the assessment including ISO 14067, Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), Greenhouse Gas protocols, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) guidelines and further relevant regulations and standards.
Several impact categories are considered based on the scope of the life cycle assessment. These include the Global Warming Potential, Blue Water Consumption, Primary Energy Demand, Eutrophication Potential, Ozone Layer Depletion Potential, to mention a few.
You can find an overview here.
The functional unit and system boundary (such as cradle-to-gate, cradle-to-grave, cradle-to-cradle) are defined based on the goal and scope of the assessment. Typically, the functional unit based on the mass of product is considered for the scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
For each assessment, the cumulative material or energy input that may be neglected is less than 5% of the sum and less than 1% for single inputs. In addition, the cumulative neglected input does not generally constitute more the 5% of total environmental impact of the product.
You may find the required information in Environmental Product Declarations as well as published eco-certifications on the product websites. For further life cycle assessment data, please contact your business partner at Evonik.