Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

STYLE Report Summary

Project ID: 636771
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.5.3.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - STYLE (Sustainability Toolkit for easY Life-cycle Evaluation)

Reporting period: 2016-07-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Funding is regularly invested to develop new technologies and modify processes/products to bring resource and energy efficiency improvements. However, for EU stakeholders and industry to see the true value of these new technologies and modifications, and make informed decisions surrounding their adoption, a consistent approach is needed to assess the sustainability impact across the full value chain. This is particularly challenging when it comes to assessing sustainability across sector boundaries, or in a data lean environment. For many years, the EU process industries have recognised that assessment of sustainability is an essential component of their business management. As such, many sustainability indicators, tools and methodologies already exist. However, these vary widely in their sophistication, applicability, maturity and usability thereby limiting broad cross-sectoral implementation.

Consequently, STYLE defined 3 key objectives:
- To identify best practice in sustainability evaluation, across multiple sectors in the process industries and through value chains, via inventory and classification of established approaches
- To test and deliver a practical ‘toolkit’ for sustainability evaluation of processes and products, spanning multiple sectors that is easily usable by non-practitioners of sustainability assessments
- To determine gaps, through critical assessment and validation, and identify future research needs to improve the ‘toolkit’ and ensure broad applicability across sectors

STYLE defined a specific scenario to focus on: 'A project team is evaluating options for a resource or energy improvement for their process or product and they need a pragmatic tool to check the broader sustainability implications of each technological solution'

STYLE set out to look for an ideal collection of tools to meet the needs of this STYLE scenario. Although promising features were found in existing open access tools, the most suitable tools found were developed in-house by industry and lacked availability and transferability to be used across the SPIRE process industries. Consequently, STYLE has worked with project partners and stakeholders to develop a high-level structure for an 'Ideal Toolkit', taking useful features from existing tools and feedback from tool users.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

At the beginning of the project, a stakeholder questionnaire, workshop, and a literature survey was used to search for existing tools. In total, 69 different tools and methods were collected for further evaluation. An initial assessment was performed to identify promising tools. None of the tools for which the relevant information was available met all of the STYLE criteria; however, 16 of them were promising enough to recommend for testing by the industrial partners.

Industrial testing provided an opportunity to learn about several in-house tools and share experiences of applying the tools in different sectors. The testing confirmed that there was not one tool, or collection of existing tools, that could be used for assessing the sustainability of processes and products, spanning multiple sectors, due to the large diversity of environmental and social issues covered, usability and maturity. Consequently, features of existing tools that could be incorporated into future tool development were identified.

STYLE carried out an independent academic evaluation of 10 tools that were subjected to industrial testing and derived lessons and recommendations for further improvement. The protocol developed provides guidance to analyse a tool’s goal and scope, its sustainability coverage, the methods a tool uses to translate inputs into results, as well as practical aspects such as the skills and time require to work with a tool, its flexibility and analysis options.

Results from the Testing and Validation were brought together to generate an overall gap and research needs analysis. A vision was defined by the STYLE consortium to establish the desired end-point for a roadmap: ‘By 2030, project teams in the EU process industries will routinely use sustainability evaluation tools to make better decisions when assessing process or product improvements’
Gaps and research needs to reach the STYLE vision were divided into Toolkit, Methodological, Data and Uptake categories.

STYLE gathered views and experience from a wide range of stakeholders throughout the project timeline, to ensure that different sectors and sizes of companies were able to contribute to the generation of understanding and recommendations. This was done in collaboration with SAMT and MEASURE through 3 workshops, questionnaires, presentations, and news updates via email, social media and the website.

To communicate some of the main issues surrounding the use of sustainability tools in industry project teams and recommendations for their improvement, STYLE produced six ‘Insight’ documents: https://goo.gl/gK93gA

A key recommendation of STYLE was the need to develop an Ideal Toolkit for the STYLE scenario (https://goo.gl/3s4o0A). The Toolkit is structured as a series of modules:
- Materiality setup
- Integrated Qualitative Screening Tool
- Semi-Quantitative Toolset

STYLE brought together its key recommendations into an interactive Recommendations Roadmap (https://goo.gl/oxfc1M).

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

STYLE included a review of the state-of-the-art for the use of sustainability evaluation tools in industry project teams, to meet the needs of the STYLE scenario. This review revealed that promising features were found in existing open access tools, but the most suitable tools were developed in-house by industry and lacked availability and transferability to be used across the SPIRE process industries. Consequently, STYLE has made recommendations to enable progress to be made beyond the state-of-the-art.

The full impact of STYLE is dependent on the adoption of the recommendations outlined in the Recommendations Roadmap. In the short-term, the main impacts are expected through:
- Industry and commercial tool developers making improvements to existing sustainability analysis tools, incorporating elements from the High-Level Features for an Ideal Toolkit
- Guidance developed in conjunction with SAMT and MEASURE to help existing and future SPIRE projects incorporate pragmatic sustainability evaluations into the earlier phases of their project developments

In the medium-term, the main impacts are expected through:
- Adoption of the STYLE recommendation to fund the development of an Open Access version of the Materiality Setup and Qualitative Screening tool. This would allow industry across the SPIRE sectors in the EU to have access to a common approach to early-stage assessments and sector level setup scenarios.

Key recommendations to enable high impact for SME’s were:
- Development of an Open Access qualitative screening tool, since they are unlikely to be able to develop their own tools in-house
- Development of default sector and scenario setups for the screening tool, since they are unlikely to have the expertise to customise the tool
- Longer-term provision of coaching to help SME’s see the value in utilising semi-quantitative tools to assess their processes

Several of the recommendations have the potential to impact future regulations and standardisation. Standardisation bodies were included in the STYLE stakeholder consultations (AFNOR), and links are to be continued through SAMT partners (to ISO) and MEASURE partners (to PEF).

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