Mainstreaming the Use of Life Cycle Management in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Using a Sector Based and Regional Approach

Naeem Adibi, Vanessa Pasquet, Aubin Roy, Alice Salamon, Jodie Bricout, Catherine Beutin, Quentin Renault, Marie Darul, François Xavier Callens, Marc Haquette, Patrick Orlans, Jeanne Meillier, Joanne Boudehenn, Sophie Reynaud, Sophie Cabaret, Christophe Bogaert, and Christelle Demaretz

Abstract Although Life Cycle Management (LCM) is becoming commonplace in larger corporations it is far from mainstream. To achieve sustainable production and consumption patterns, LCM needs to be taken up by whole supply chains that include small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). From a business perspective, this represents a competitivity issue, as these SMEs are increasingly under pressure from clients and legislators to provide more information about the environmental impacts of their products, and to take responsibility for them both up and down the value chain. Therefore a sector based and regional approach is needed to foster the implementation of LCM in SMEs. This has been done in Northern France, where professional support organizations, including clusters, business federations and Chambers of Commerce, have come together under the auspices of the [avniR]

LCA Platform to explore ways to help businesses to adopt LCM. Nine pioneer sectors, textile, seafood, packaging, mechanical, food, wood, construction, recycling and renewable energies, have undertaken an ambitious project to integrate LCM into their business. The methodology for all nine sectors follows five major steps: benchmark, sector maturity assessment, needs identification, action plan and implementation.

Keywords Life cycle assessment • Life cycle management • Regional development

• Sector-based approach • Small and medium sized enterprises • SMEs

Introduction

Life Cycle Management (LCM) has been defined by the SETAC working group as “an integrated framework of concepts, techniques and procedures to address environmental, economic, technological and social aspects of products and organizations to achieve continuous environmental improvement from a life cycle perspective” (Hunkeler et al. 2001). Supply chain actors have been pursuing to integrate LCM within their activities and collaborations for years.

Therefore, now, many major global companies have internal and external programs to assess and manage the sustainability performance of goods and services across the life cycle. LCM-related initiatives include sustainability parameters, like Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and existing additional processes (NilssonLindén et al. 2014). Several private companies also finance collaborative life cycle research through initiatives such as SCORELCA, CIRAIG, Sustainability Consortium and UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative.

LCM is also increasingly impacting public policy related to resources use and recycling, and more recently product-related environmental policies. For example, the European Commission launched “Building the Single Market for Green Products – Facilitating better information on the environmental performance of products and organizations” in April 2013. The Product/organizational Environmental Footprint (PEF/OEF) method (European Union 2013), published in April 2013, includes Commission recommendation on the use of common methods to measure and communicate the life cycle environmental performance of products and organizations. Within the related PEF/OEF pilot projects the Commission has engaged mainly big companies and industry associations.

Only few initiatives have been developed recently to help integrating LCM within SMEs in a sector. In 2013 the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative supported eight pilot projects using Life Cycle Management Capability Maturity Model (LCM-CMM) in Cameroon, Uganda, South Africa, India, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. As an example, results in Colombia showed that the companies could apply the LCM concepts to their organizations with limited technical support (Moreno et al. 2015).

Whilst the existing initiatives help to make significant progress towards sustainable production and consumption patterns, LCM needs to be taken up by whole supply chains that, by definition, include many small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). From a business perspective, this represents a competitivity issue, as these SMEs are increasingly under pressure from clients and legislators to provide more information about the environmental impacts of their products, and to take responsibility for them both up and down the value chain. (Bricout et al. 2012)

 
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