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Final results of the ORIENTING Project

The ORIENTING project presented its final results on a conference last April 18th at the World Circular Economy Forum 2024 in Brussels, Belgium. More than a hundred people attended the event, both in person and online, to get to know all the work done by the project partners that hosted the conference.

During the conference, the main results achieved during the project were presented. Besides, a panel discussion with national, European and international decision makers was carried out for discussing about the applicability of LCSA in different decision contexts, in the light of ongoing and forthcoming European policy initiatives, such as, prominently, the Ecodesign for Sustainable Product Regulation and the Green Claims Directive, among others.

The conference was opened by two presentations by Ioanis Bakas (EEA) and Umberto Eynard (JRC) on the policy perspectives from a consumption-based approach to environmental issues, with the aim of providing an overview of how current life cycle-based methods and approaches are used to inform the policy process, and what are the main developments needed. After the presentation of ORIENTING´s results, the panel discussed about the role of life cycle-based methods for sustainability in the policy framework, and on how to move forward a Product Sustainability Footprint (PSF). The panel discussion was participated by Mauro Cordella, Policy Officer, European Commission – DG Environment – Environmental Footprint and Green Claims; Umberto Eynard, Project Officer, Europe Commission, Joint Research Centre, Land Resources and Supply Chain Assessments Unit (D3); Davide Tonini, Policy Officer, Europe Commission, Joint Research Centre, Circular Economy and Sustainable Industry Unit (B5); Jose Maria Fernández Alcalá, Director of Circular Economy at IHOBE, Spain; and Archana Datta, Associate Programme Management Officer at the Life Cycle Initiative, United Nations Environment Programme.

The take-home message can be summarised in 4 main bullet points:

  • It is necessary to strengthen current LCSA methodology and data, before using it in the formulation and implementation of policies, while current methodology could already be used for e.g., exploratory approaches in problem formulation, and for improving the impact assessment of policy by including social indicators, and a structured Life Cycle Costing (LCC).  
  • The dichotomy accuracy vs simplification remains: while methodologies shall be robust, accurate, and reliable for being used in certain policy steps, the need for simplification remains for the usability of the approaches.
  • From the point of view of organisations, it is time to start talking about the social assessment in the discourse of product sustainability, by means of raising awareness among companies, and providing them with examples, toolbox for applications and guidelines.
  • Further steps to create enabling conditions for the further development and usability of life cycle-based sustainability assessment were identified, including:  raising awareness among companies about the availability of approaches for the product and organisation sustainability assessment, based on LCSA and linking it with reporting compliance and financial advantages; sharing knowledge and facilitating exchanges of best practices, also building upon regional and national LCA networks; promoting consensus-based activities for the method development, to increase their acceptance.

The outcomes of the discussions and exchanges with the institutional stakeholders fed into ORIENTING´s Policy Brief on Product Sustainability Footprint, which illustrates the potential role of a PSF along the policy cycle and provides recommendations for the PSF development, from the policy.

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