Environmental Sustainability Assessment and Circularity

OUR VISION OF SUSTAINABILITY AND CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Identifying the factors undermining environmental health and opportunities for reducing the environmental impacts and risks associated with industrial activities and human consumption patterns is of key importance today. The scientific community and society as a whole has recognized the need for a long term sustainable development and a more circular economy at both the regional and global scale. Luxembourg is an ideal location to showcase the development of operational approaches and technological platforms targeting sustainability and risk mitigation, thanks to its small size, which enables a closeness between researchers and decision makers, and its economy structure.

Circular Economy is an organizational principle aiming at changing our current linear economic model into a model which values resource efficiency and protecting the biodiversity and ensuring the well-being of individuals. This principle brings together the various approaches which support sustainability objectives, all along the value chain of products and services. When developing, implementing and monitoring such Circular Economy approaches, it is essential to evaluate not only their circularity - which is often mainly associated to materials flows -, but also their sustainability performance.

Life Cycle Thinking methods are very relevant for this purpose, as they rely on the holistic “life cycle” consideration, from the “cradle to the grave”, or “cradle to cradle”. In particular, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) enables to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of a system (i.e. material, product, technology, service, as well as strategy at territory scale), from resources depletion to climate change, eco-systems quality and human health. Moreover, regulatory toxicology and risk assessment methods are often needed to more specifically address the issues related to human health and eco-systems quality. Lastly, as energy is a key aspect of Circular Economy, it is important to also apply and develop some specific expertise and solutions in this field.

OUR MISSION

The Environmental Sustainability Assessment and Circularity (SUSTAIN) research unit aims at providing industrial innovation and policy decision-making with science-based quantification of the impacts and risks of production and consumption patterns, as well as energy systems solutions, to foster the transition towards a more circular economy and a more sustainable society.

OUR ORGANISATION AND ACTIVITIES

Our research unit is composed of about thirty people, mainly researchers, engineers, and technicians, coming from various industrial and academic backgrounds. We achieve our mission by providing public and private stakeholders with a multidisciplinary, structured and user-centered know how and technological platform combining, at different scales, the expertise from our four groups: 

We develop:

  • Methods and transferable tools for the integrative sustainability and circularity assessment of products, technologies and policies, leading to the definition and implementation of more sustainable strategies and solutions on the market.
  • Applicable and reliable tools for environmental and human risk assessment of chemicals, with a focus on nanomaterials present in water, air and soil.

When appropriate, the combination of expertise fields (e.g. LCA together with risk assessment or with eco-system services evaluation) enables to enrich the input data and to reinforce the robustness of our modellings. This helps generate sustainability indicators that are even more reliable and specific for each decision-making context. We also offer support on some national and European environmental policies (e.g. Commodo/Incommodo, REACH) via our Environmental Policies group, which includes the Luxembourgish “REACH & CLP” helpdesk.

OUR APPLICATION AREAS

We apply our expertise, and develop models and tools at every scale (i.e. substances, materials, products, technologies, services and territories) in support to various decision-making situations:

  • Strategic planning (e.g. Sustainability strategy, Circular Economy business models)
  • R&D projects (e.g. product or process development)
  • Industrial operations
  • Implementation on the market
  • Consumers behaviours
  • Sustainability communications

OUR KEY PARTNERS

We work in close collaboration with industrial stakeholders from various sectors within Europe (e.g. chemistry, plastics, steel, construction, automotive, manufactured goods, agro-food, etc.) as well as Luxembourgish policy makers. Some key partners: ArcelorMittal, Astron, Cimalux, Delphi, SCORELCA, Ministère de l’Economie (Luxembourg), Ministère du Développement Durable et des Infrastructures (Luxembourg), Philipp Morris, Royal Canin, Tarkett, Voestalpine.

OUR FUNDINGS

Research contracts, European and National funding programmes.

Contact

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Dr-Ing. Enrico BENETTO
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