Person in laboratory

Sustainable offerings and long-term profitability

Life-cycle assessments and product footprint

All stages of a product’s life cycle must be considered for sustainable industrial development. Detailed, reliable and transparent data is available for some environmental aspects in parts of the lifecycle.

For environmental areas with good data availability (e.g. green-house gases), quantification of the product footprint is necessary to channel activities towards sustainable development. This data can give useful input for qualified decisions on changes and improvements in production or supply, as well as new product developments. We therefore run two initiatives with the goal of mapping metal powders’ environmental performance. 

Internally, we have kicked off a systematic work with life cycle assessments (LCA) focusing on cradle-to-gate analysis covering the parts of our products’ life cycle that we can directly influence. Moreover, we have started an industry-wide initiative on life cycle assessments within the European Powder Metallurgy Association (EPMA), starting with a lighthouse project to quantify the complete life cycle impact of a specific powder metal part. 

However, where complete data is missing, both for parts of the lifecycle and for some entire footprint areas (e.g. social footprint and recyclability), traditional life cycle assessment does not give us the whole picture. To get a more complete overview of our products’ footprint, we are therefore also running a qualitative analysis of our product portfolio based on the four sustainability principles (see fact box). The results from this study will be used to strengthen our development processes and to clarify our products’ sustainability goals. 

The Four Principles of a Sustainable Society

In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically increasing…

concentrations of substances extracted from the earth’s crust
concentrations of substances produced by society
degradation by physical means

And, in that society

people are not subject to structural obstacles to health, influence, competence, impartiality and meaning making

These principles are often referred to as The Natural Step “System Conditions for a Sustainable Society” after the international non-profit organization promoting their development and application since 1989. The principles are part of a Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development that is openly published in peer-reviewed journals.