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Sustainable products, sustainable futures

CSIRO : 24 April, 2007  (Technical Article)
Information about the environmental impact of a range of industry materials is to be made available to the public via a new national database. The Australian Life Cycle Inventory database initiative, led by CSIRO, will allow users from government and industry to assess and compare products across a number of industries ranging from building to packaging materials, and to choose those likely to give the best performance relative to their environmental impact.
CSIRO research leader Dr Greg Foliente says: “With pressing environmental issues such as climate change, access to consistent and credible life cycle data is vital for informed decision making.

“Our governments and businesses have an important opportunity to provide leadership in sustainable consumption and production in Australia using this resource.

“For example, providing quality data on basic materials and products will set benchmarks on emissions for industries such as energy, transport, automotive and building, ultimately improving environmental best practice nationally.”

The AusLCI database is being developed with several partners, including the Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society, Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association, Sustainability Victoria, RMIT Centre for Design and the Forest and Wood Products Research and Development Corporation.

“Life Cycle Assessment manager Tim Grant says the AusLCI database is pivotal in the development of credible environmental information in Australia.”Currently, technical guidelines and methodologies are being developed, and new and existing LCI data are being collected and converted to meet the requirements of a public national database. Due for completion this year, the database is part of a global trend, evidenced in the international life-cycle partnership, United Nations Environmental Programme and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

Jon Ward, from Sustainability Victoria, says: “The UNEP program is taking life cycle initiatives around the globe, and in Australia the AusLCI will play an important role in creating change in markets, policy making and consumer choices.”

Life Cycle Assessment manager Tim Grant says the AusLCI database is pivotal in the development of credible environmental information in Australia.

“The database will underpin environmental innovation, giving companies and research groups confidence in assessing the life cycle impacts of products and services so that we can focus on the development of solutions, rather that the development of data,” Mr Grant says.

Terry A’Hearn, from EPA Victoria, says: “AusLCI is providing a centralised and validated source of life cycle information for Australian products which will be integral for the future of businesses pursuing sustainable business growth and innovation.”
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