Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SAMT Report Summary

Project ID: 636727
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SAMT (Sustainability assessment methods and tools to support decision-making in the process industries)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Sustainability assessment methods are needed to support sustainable technology development and to evaluate the impacts of existing solutions, products and technologies. While there are aspects and indicators that are common to all process industries, sector specific tools are required to address the sector specific features in a fair and transparent way. At the moment, several tools, assessment methods and indicators exist, but they differ in their goal and scope and are intended for different kind of use within companies, by consumers or by authorities to support policy planning and evaluation. Additionally,different tools are focused for different levels of assessment: product, company, industry or society. Thus the problem is not so much the existence of proper tools but rather the lack of understanding and knowledge on how they should be applied and in which context. Furthermore, suitable tools for analysing resource and energy efficiency within the process industries and across the different sectors should be recognized.

SPIRE PPP brings together several sectors of process industry: cement, ceramics, chemicals, engineering, minerals and ores, non-ferrous metals, steel and water. All SPIRE sectors can be considered as resource and energy intensive. Improving resource and energy efficiency are urgent issues for improving the sustainability and competitiveness of the sectors.
Within the Horizon 2020 work programme, the specific and common goals listed for the SPIRE sectors are:
* A reduction in fossil energy intensity of up to 30% from current levels by 2030.
* A reduction of up to 20% in non-renewable, primary raw material intensity compared to current levels by 2030.
* A reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 20% below 1999 levels by 2020, with further reductions up to 40% by 2030.
For evaluating the current state and the achievement of the goals, sustainability assessment methods, tools and indicators that are applicable for cross-sectorial assessment are required.

SAMT is a coordination and support action that promotes cross-sectorial learning and uptake of the most promising tools by conducting case studies, organizing workshops and identifying needs for future R&D and standardization. The aim of the SAMT project is to review and make recommendations about the most potential methods for evaluating sustainability in the process industry, focusing especially on energy and resource efficiency. SAMT will collect, evaluate and communicate the experiences of leading industrial actors from cement, oil, metal, water, waste and chemical industry, and review the latest scientific developments within the field of sustainability assessment. A central outcome of the project is a strategy for implementing best practices across different sectors of the process industry.

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

Objectives of the first 18 months included
- A review of the existing sustainability assessment methods and tools (with resource and energy efficiency perspective);
- Interviews of the industrial representatives regarding their practices and challenges;
- Development of an evaluation criteria to assess the suitability and applicability of the methods and tools to support decision making in process industries in terms of sustainability and resource and energy efficiency (using RACER method);
- Evaluation of the selected methods and establishment of the case study framework in accordance;
- Industrial case studies applying selected sustainability assessment methods and tools in a cross-sectorial context;
- Start of drafting of the key findings and conclusions as part of the road mapping process, including a synthesis and further analyses of the conclusions and recommendations produced during WP1 and 2.

A comprehensive evaluation of sustainable assessment methods and tools with highlights of the currently identified research needs for the area has been delivered. This was supplemented by an in-depth description of current industry practice based on twelve interviews with seventeen people from seven companies of the process industries. To classify and select the best practices an evaluation criterion was developed applying RACER methodology, which proved to be a stable assessment method easily adaptable to the purpose of the SAMT project. Based on results obtained a case study framework was created including following methods: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Material Input per Service (MIPS – Material Footprint), Life Cycle Costing (LCC) , Eco-Efficiency Analysis (EEA), Green Productivity (GP), Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA), Water Footprint (WF, two different methods), Carbon Footprint (CF), Exegetic Life Cycle Assessment (E-LCA) and Life Cycle Activity Analysis (LCAA). Key issues that have been analysed in three case studies included the reliability, the data needs, the gaps covered, the possibilities to assess different aspects, the opportunities for decision making at different levels, the quality of the results, and the utility for the industry.

Two open workshops have been organised in accordance with the project plan. The 1st open workshop was held in Wuppertal, Germany, on June 2nd 2015. Altogether 24 participants representing both industry and research organizations were gathered to discuss current best practices and challenges related to sustainability assessment methods and the assessment practice. The aim of the 2nd workshop was to discuss learnings and outcome from the industrial case studies applying sustainability assessment methods and tools in a cross-sectorial context. It was held at Tecnalia Research and Innovation in Bilbao on February 17th 2016 and gathered 27 participants representing 19 organizations. Both workshops can be regarded successful in terms of their outcome bringing out good practices as well as various needs, like a need for a cooperation along the supply chain and diverse needs for methods and thus for their further development. Based on the work done in the SAMT so far a process to make recommendations about future research needs has started and an implementation strategy for developing consistent sustainability assessment methods in the process industry is being prepared.

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)

One of the main objectives of SAMT project is to identify the best practices that are been used to assess the sustainability of the different industrial sectors. The project will provide an unbiased, independent review of the methodologies and tools, and the identified best practices will serve as a benchmark. Cross checking of experiences with tools in other industries, reviewing collaborations of different supply chain partners, cross checking of needed adaptations of tools and discussion about pros and cons, hurdles and opportunities of existing approaches will ensure finding the best practises.

SAMT project will provide a complete overview of the existing practices for the industry process assessment. Moreover, the suitability of the existing practices for cross-sectorial and sector specific assessment will be analysed. This analysis will reflect the strengths and weaknesses of current existing practices and, consequently, the research needs in this field will be identified and described in detail. Thus, the results of SAMT project will conduct the future research with proved and solid basis.

Considering the large number of methods and practices that exist to assess the sustainability in industry, the choice of one of them is difficult. The use of such methods and tools is still at an early stage, implying that there are still significant gaps and shortcomings. For example, many of them were developed ad hoc for very specific purposes, but later on used in a much broader context. Others are very descriptive in nature and therefore of limited relevance for decision making. Finally, tools developed for different levels are not always based on the same principles. All these factors, combined with the complexity of the underlying issues, imply that in many cases sustainability is not or only insufficiently considered in decision making at all levels. SAMT project will identify the ways the current practices give response to the needs and demands of the industry. The identification of a common set of tools will overcome many of these shortcomings. It will not only improve how sustainability is considered in decision making, it will make it possible that sustainability is considered.

Related information

Record Number: 192871 / Last updated on: 2016-12-15