2nd New Zealand Life Cycle Assessment Conference

Auckland - NZ
Sunday, 1 April 2012

The theme for 2nd New Zealand Life Cycle Assessment Conference was “Life Cycle Assessment: A Business Compass for Sustainable Development.” This theme reflects the increasingly important role that LCA plays in guiding and shaping business operations, management practices and strategies.

With this in mind, we wanted to explore questions such as:

  • What’s the business case for adopting a life cycle approach and conducting LCA?
  • How do I understand, measure and capture the benefits of LCA?
  • Can I use LCA as a marketing tool?
  • How can I integrate LCA in new product development?
  • What role does LCA have in addressing supply chain issues?
  • How do I build a strategic approach to the use of LCA and LCM?
  • What is the path forward for using LCA in New Zealand?

In order to do so, we were aided by four keynote speakers from around the world. Professor Matthias Finkbeiner from the Technical University of Berlin and Chair of the ISO Sub-Committee on Life Cycle Assessment, described how standards are integral to modern life, and underlined the importance of countries like New Zealand being involved in both development and use of standards. Clare Broadbent of the World Steel Association demonstrated how use of LCA is being efficiently supported through an industry association and is driving strategic decision-making. This theme was also explored by Dr Alastair Woodard of the Australian Life Cycle Cycle Assessment Society (ALCAS); he discussed how LCA can be used to improve sector-wide rating tools for building and construction materials and products. Finally, Dave Maslen of the NZ Merino Company tackled the thorny question of whether – and how – LCA can be used as a marketing tool as well as driving product innovation.

The questions were also explored through 19 oral presentations and 13 poster presentations, and the authors’ insights are accessible via peer-reviewed paper summaries published in the conference proceedings. Conference attendees were particularly appreciative of the opportunity to hear about the poster presentations through two-minute “snapshots” provided in the main conference sessions by poster authors. The two Panel Discussion sessions were also popular and provided a forum for reflecting on some of the themes that emerged during the talks.

Additional value was provided to participants through the provision of five workshops that were held before and after the conference. As well as workshops on use of LCA software, this year the workshops also explored water footprinting, use of Environmental Product Declarations, and consequential versus attributional LCA.

The conference took place on 28th and 29th March at the Waipuna Hotel, Auckland, and almost 100 people participated in the conference and associated workshops. Ten bursaries to support travel and subsistence were awarded to students, ensuring that our future LCA specialists have opportunities to network and learn from established LCA researchers and practitioners. Paper summaries and video recordings of the keynote speakers are available at the conference website. Finally, we are very grateful to our Gold Sponsor, the Sustainable Business Council, and to our 14 Silver Sponsors, for their support.