Written by our experts Emilia Moreno Ruiz, Lucia Valsasina, Carl Vadenbo, and Avraam Symeonidis, the article offers a comprehensive look at the development, core features, and global influence of the ecoinvent LCI database. They offer insights into how ecoinvent has been an instrumental tool in shaping sustainable decision-making and environmental assessments globally.

 

This year marks a significant milestone for our organization as we celebrate a decade of growth and advancement since the establishment of the ecoinvent association, and twenty impactful years since our first release.

 

Read the full article for an engaging overview of ecoinvent’s journey and our ongoing commitment to enhancing the database. With objectives like improving user-friendliness, facilitating data exchange, and collaborating with international data providers, we’re set to further empower the LCA community.

 

We would like to thank the Institute of Life Cycle Assessment, Japan (ILCAJ) for their collaboration.

 

Click here to access the article.

This compelling event solidified the viewpoint that leveraging data in sustainability reporting is not just a regulatory requirement; it’s a strategy to gain a competitive edge. It will become increasingly critical for businesses to begin gathering and reporting data, as the European Union is actively formulating regulations to ensure that environmental statements are data-backed. Consequently, this will mandate compliance from Swiss firms, whether due to their direct influence or as part of another entity’s scope 3 emissions. Insights from various companies, big and small, underscore the importance of maintaining transparency and fostering cooperation when it comes to sustainability data.

 

Highlights from the evening included:

 

  • Baptiste Carriere-Pradal of 2BPolicy provided a thorough overview of crucial EU sustainability reporting policies, including CSRD, the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, EU Green Claims, and ESPR Principles. His presentation served as a valuable guide to the current status of climate policy in the EU.
  • Nic Meyer, CEO of ecoinvent, highlighted the growing importance of high-quality, transparent data in the wake of increasing regulations. His vision of “More regulation means more data” underscores the changing landscape of performance metrics and emerging opportunities.
  • Res Witschi of Swisscom gave insights into Swisscom’s approach to embedding sustainability into their core strategy, notably their digitalization of carbon footprint data, aiming for a tangible reduction in their environmental impact.
  • Matteo Trachsel of Thermoplan shared how this Swiss family business integrates sustainability at every level, particularly through life cycle assessments of all their machines – a testament to their environmental commitment.
  • Simone Thompson of CLIMADA Technologies spoke about fostering a global mindset shift towards sustainable business practices, underlying the vision and mission of her company.

 

A panel discussion moderated by Marion Gloor of Swisscom brought together these varied perspectives. The dialogue delved into the nuances of data availability, the mixed bag of challenges and opportunities posed by impending EU regulations, strategies for effective measurement, and the crucial aspect of delivering customer value through sustainability data.

 

Our heartfelt thanks to GreenBuzz Zurich for their support in making this event not just a success but also a wellspring of knowledge and inspiration.

 

We left the event energized, better informed, and ready to face the challenges and opportunities presented by the ongoing developments in sustainability reporting. Let’s keep the conversation going to turn these insights into actions!

Waste management is at the heart of sustainability. With modern economies producing increasing volumes of waste, it’s crucial to ensure proper treatment and disposal to protect our ecosystems and human health. The ecoinvent database features hundreds of datasets dedicated to waste management, covering a wide range of sectors.

 

This sector is not only about waste disposal; it’s a multifaceted world. It encompasses solid waste management (SWM) and wastewater treatment (WWT), with more than 50 countries represented. As industries move towards greener practices, waste management increasingly intertwines with other sectors like recycling, energy production, and product design.

 

The ecoinvent database classifies waste products based on their treatment needs, making it easier to model their environmental impact. It includes various waste types, from municipal solid waste to plastics and glass. Emissions, chemicals, energy inputs, infrastructure, and by-products are all considered for a holistic view of waste management.

 

Three primary treatment methods are covered: mechanical (sorting), thermal (incineration), and biological (composting). Recycling data covers the production of secondary materials, while disposal datasets account for various methods like landfilling.

 

ecoinvent’s WWT sub-sector includes data for more than 20 different wastewater treatments, accommodating a wide range of industrial processes. Direct emissions, materials, energy inputs, infrastructure, and relevant by-products are modeled for a comprehensive understanding.

 

What’s more, all the tools used for modeling these datasets are freely accessible, allowing users to create specific treatments and waste scenarios. This data supports life cycle assessments, carbon footprint calculations, and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for a variety of products and services.

Explore the waste management and recycling sector of the ecoinvent database to discover how our data supports sustainable waste management possibilities for a greener future.

This update delivers a wealth of new and updated data across various sectors. Some of the key highlights include:

 

  • Petroleum and Natural Gas: Version 3.10 will feature an extensive update of petroleum and natural gas supply chains, incorporating the latest statistical data from 2021.
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  • Agriculture: Get ready for more regionalized data! We’re adding datasets covering barley, oat, wheat, and rapeseed production in Australia, as well as data for potato, sweet corn, soybean, and maize production in the United States. Plus, detailed data modeling for machinery and field operations in both countries.
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  • Electricity: Market mixes will receive an update with data from 2020, and for select countries like China, India, and the United States, data from 2021 will be included. We’ll also refresh the residual mix markets for EU-28 and several other European countries based on 2022 data.
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  • Waste: Version 3.10 will finalize the disaggregation of the waste treatment chains, offering a more in-depth view of the environmental impacts associated with waste treatment steps.
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  • Chemicals: Unit process data for olefins and aromatics will replace aggregated data. Additionally, new datasets modeling the production of hydrogen, methanol, chlorine, and cooling energy supply will be added.
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  • Construction: Expect regionalized data for various construction materials, covering Tunisia, Ecuador, and Switzerland.
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  • Packaging: We’re expanding our database to include data for the production of three types of beverage cartons.
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  • Fuels: Version 3.10 will introduce data for the production of hard coal coke in China.
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  • New impact assessment methods, including USEtox v2.13 with both midpoint and endpoint indicators and IPCC 2021 ISO 14067.

 

Plus, Version 3.10 comes with other valuable updates, such as specifying chemical formulas and CAS numbers for elementary exchanges and integrating the Harmonized System (HS) nomenclature for product classification.

 

This release underscores our commitment to providing accurate, up-to-date environmental data for sustainable decision-making. Stay tuned for more details and mark your calendars for the end of November!

Brightway is an open-source software platform that facilitates LCA and environmental impact analysis. It is a valuable tool for individuals and organizations seeking to assess the environmental footprint of products, processes, and systems. Brightway’s key strength lies in its ability to harness vast datasets, including ecoinvent data, to provide comprehensive insights into the environmental impacts of various activities.

 

Organized by Départ de Sentier and the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, Brightcon provides a dynamic environment for the open-source LCA community. Attendees have the unique opportunity to troubleshoot and build solutions together in workshop sessions and gain hands-on experience with tools and technologies like Brightway alongside experts from diverse fields.

 

As the Strategic and Innovative Lead Partner of Brightcon 2023, ecoinvent is proud to have sponsored this year’s hybrid event and supported this vital hub of the open-source LCA community.

 

We are pleased to share a glimpse of Brightcon 2023 and showcase how Brightway and ecoinvent are supporting the remarkable work of sustainability enthusiasts and LCA thought leaders who are leveraging the power of data to promote sustainability. Our recently released video below introduces some of the LCA experts who participated in this year’s conference:

 

 

The ecoinvent team is thankful to everyone who made this conference a resounding success!

Noemi joined ecoinvent in 2022 after an extensive career in the information technology sector and quickly became a driving force behind our marketing and communication activities. She has a background in visual communication, management, and economics, and has worked in advertising and marketing at both technology start-ups and large enterprises.

Since joining ecoinvent, Noemi successfully developed and led internal and external activities that significantly increased the impact of our marketing and communication function and more broadly strengthened our operations within ecoinvent. Furthermore, Noemi’s leadership and enthusiasm for communicating the link between technical insights and real-world applications has been a critical driver behind our marketing activities’ rapidly increasing reach and impact.

 

With this well-deserved promotion, Noemi joins the senior management team of ecoinvent. In her new role, Noemi will build out the subsequent phases of the ecoinvent marketing and communications function and will augment our management team with her creative and strategic thinking and strong customer orientation.

 

The ecoinvent team is excited for this new chapter of her leadership and the journey ahead.

By combining Agroscope’s extensive knowledge and experience in LCA and ecoinvent’s robust database infrastructure, the partnership aims to provide high-quality data to enhance software tools, inform decision-making processes, and contribute to international sustainability goals.

 

Agroscope’s LCA Research Group conducts research on environmental impacts and sustainability assessment in the agriculture and food sector since 2000. Their expertise lies in the development of methods, data, and tools applied in projects on agricultural production systems, farms, or the agricultural sector for agricultural products, food, dietary patterns, and scenarios as well as agricultural policy measures.

 

As a member of the ecoinvent Expert Group and Editorial Group, Agroscope has contributed significantly to the ecoinvent database, specifically in the domain of agriculture. Over the past 20 years, Agroscope has developed generic Life Cycle Assessment calculation tools for field crops and farms, including livestock production and food. Their involvement in various database projects and initiatives has bridged critical data gaps, ensuring consistent and reliable LCA data and environmental product information for the agri-food sector.

 

The renewed partnership between ecoinvent and Agroscope will concentrate on the following areas:

  1. Researching further methodological development of Life Cycle Inventories in the agriculture and food sectors.
  2. Harmonizing modeling approaches to enhance consistency.
  3. Closing data gaps in the agriculture and food sector.
  4. Updating existing life-cycle inventories to ensure accuracy and relevancy.
  5. Easier access to Swiss-specific LCA information on the agri-food sector
  6. Coordinating with third-party activities related to ecoinvent’s domain affected by the collaboration.
  7. Ensuring quality assurance of life-cycle inventories, including the review of submitted datasets in the agricultural and animal husbandry sector.

 

By combining Agroscope’s extensive knowledge and experience in LCA and ecoinvent’s robust database infrastructure, the partnership aims to provide high-quality data to enhance software tools, inform decision-making processes, and contribute to international sustainability goals.

 

The partnership also includes joint tasks such as the strategic and content-related development of the agriculture and food sector within the ecoinvent database, funding project plans with potential third-party involvement, and facilitating knowledge transfer and exchange with the scientific community.

 

Both ecoinvent and Agroscope are committed to advancing sustainable practices in the agriculture and food sectors through this collaboration. Regular updates on the progress and outcomes of the partnership will be shared with the public.

 

For further information, please contact:

 

Simone Fazio
Project Manager, Agriculture Sector
ecoinvent
fazio@ecoinvent.org

www.ecoinvent.org

 

Jens Lansche
Project Manager, Life Cycle Assessment
Agroscope

jens.lansche@agroscope.admin.ch

www.agroscope.admin.ch

 

Mediendienst Agroscope
Schwarzenburgstrasse 161
3003 Bern, Switzerland
media@agroscope.admin.ch
+41 58 466 88 62

About ecoinvent

ecoinvent is an internationally active, mission-driven organization devoted to supporting high-quality, science-based environmental assessments. Its activities include publishing and maintaining the ecoinvent database, a comprehensive life cycle inventory database that provides reliable and transparent information on the environmental impacts of various products and services. The ecoinvent database encompasses over 2,400 agriculture datasets, including sectors such as agriculture, animal husbandry, and more. The database covers various geographies, including more than 40 countries and multiple regions within those countries.

About Agroscope

Agroscope is the Swiss center of excellence for agricultural research and is affiliated with the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG). Agroscope makes an important contribution to a sustainable agriculture and food sector as well as to an intact environment, thereby contributing to an improved quality of life.

Specifically, Emilia Moreno Ruiz, who very successfully acted as the interim director of the ecoinvent Association between March 2021 and April 2022, is now appointed Chief Technical Officer (CTO). Fadri Casty, whose valuable contribution as Head of Sales & Business Development has led to the structure and growth of the organisation’s sales, is now appointed Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of ecoinvent. To complete this strong team, Nickolas Meyer joins the ecoinvent team as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ecoinvent.

 

Together, Nic, Emilia and Fadri will lead ecoinvent and develop its future strategy.

 

We wish them a great start in this new chapter of ecoinvent’s journey to further support our society towards a more sustainable behaviour.

The partnership between ecoinvent and Makersite is a powerful combination of LCA expertise and cutting-edge digital technology. Leveraging the combined strengths of both organizations provides a comprehensive solution for sustainable product development. ecoinvent’s database provides inventory data for complete supply chains, while Makersite’s platform enables teams to collaborate, monitor and optimize product sustainability, compliance, and cost in real time.

 

To highlight how ecoinvent data is used across Makersite’s products by their customers, we spoke with Fabian Hassel, Makersite’s VP of Services.

 

What is Makersite?
Makersite is a cloud-based AI software solution combining more than 140 external data sources and automatically generating digital twins of every product and process used by an organization and its value chain. The digital twins provide granular insights across more than 40 criteria, including GHG emissions, supply risk, costs, health & safety, and regulatory compliance. With that, product development, procurement, and experts can analyze products, suppliers, and materials across the dimensions of sustainability, cost, risk, and regulations.

 

Founded in 2018 by CEO Neil D’Souza, the Stuttgart-based company has a team of over 50 employees across Europe, the United States, and Asia and a customer portfolio that includes major companies such as Microsoft, Schaeffler, Cummins, and Vestas.

 

How do you use databases like ecoinvent in your platform?
Databases like ecoinvent are incredibly worthwhile for our customers. The database allows Makersite to adapt every dataset to our customers in detail. The important thing really is that there is a possibility to customize the generic database. So, for example, instead of mapping a generic electronic data set, we can take the ecoinvent data and modify it to our clients’ supply chain situation set in a fully automated fashion. This changes the value of result precision and risk evaluation drastically.

 

There are databases that give you similar data sets as ecoinvent, but they’re different in that they show you opaque results. Let’s take steel as an example. In ecoinvent you see a steel dataset and how it is produced. With other databases you can only see the result. There’s no information about the process that happened to make the steel. Without this step, you lose the possibility to customize the data to the customer’s situation.

 

What role does Makersite’s AI play here?
ecoinvent alone is a generic and transparent database. Our software and AI play a critical role in bringing that data together with customer data. Our technology automatically customizes data from ecoinvent and 140 other databases onto the customer’s product and supply chain data. We can thereby ensure that the result that our customers use has the highest precision possible – not only for one product but for the whole product range of customers.

 

How do Makersite’s customers use ecoinvent data?
The ecoinvent database can be applied everywhere as needed. It allows you to modify and adapt data in any necessary composition. These possibilities are incredibly valuable. Technology, transparency, and the ecoinvent database together form the next evolutionary stage of sustainability assessments.

 

What is the Makersite team looking forward to in the next year?
We closed a significant Series A round at the end of 2022 to scale the business in Europe and North America. Partner integrations like the one with Autodesk will be a core technology focus for the near term, next to working with integrators and value-added resellers, unlocking further scale.

 

What are the greatest challenges that Makersite’s customers are looking to solve?
Customers use Makersite to get to Net Zero, accelerate their product design, and build more resilient supply chains. Sustainability managers, product engineers, and procurement officers all have their own overlapping challenges with reaching the aforementioned goals. They mostly lack insight into the deep-tiers of their supply chains, the possibility to collaborate with each other and with suppliers, have a lack of and dependency on sustainability experts, scattered or non-existent material and supply chain data, etc.

 

Makersite’s AI and Knowledge Graph-powered platform is a powerful solution for managing complex products and supply chains. With its ability to clean, connect and enrich cross-departmental data with third-party sources, it removes the dependency on sustainability, cost, and risk experts. The platform provides an array of product and supply chain-related information across sustainability, cost, and compliance metrics. Our AI algorithms automatically detect and connect product components and manufacturing processes to the right supply chain data from a harmonized and hyper-connected database, which solves one of the most time-consuming problems of mapping data to multiple sources at a granular level. The result is a detailed, extremely specific view into deep-tier supply chains, giving users a better understanding of environmental footprints, should-costing, and compliance risks at an unprecedented speed.

 

Could you please provide some examples of how Makersite’s customers leverage your technology to meet their sustainability goals?
A leading global supplier to the automotive and industrial sectors for over 75 years set a target of achieving a CO₂ reduction in their supply chain by 2040.

 

To achieve a climate-neutral supply chain, the company aims to reduce the carbon footprint of its raw materials by 25% by 2030. The challenge is that 90% of the raw materials used to make electric motors are sourced from China with little to no deep-tier insight into emissions. A common challenge faced by many manufacturers today. The company had developed an optimized supply chain that was just as reliable as its current China-centric one. However, they were left wondering if this new supply chain is any better in terms of the carbon footprint?

 

Again, they were faced with the challenge of no deep-tier visibility into supplier emissions. Using the Makersite supply chain and materials database, a digital twin was developed in a matter of weeks, of the company’s electric motors’ current and optimized supply chain. The supply chain team was then able to visualize and compare the CO2e at each stage of the process and identified three separate variables which contributed to CO2e in their current supply chain. Of the three variables, the electricity used in the processing of raw materials was shown to significantly decrease the CO2e of the new optimized supply chain. Mainly due to the switch from a Chinese manufacturer to one in Norway.

 

More examples of how Makersite helps customers achieve their sustainability goals can be found on our website.

Based on these criteria, the four following entries were selected as joint winners of the first-place contest prize of €500 each:

 

 

A description and short video of each entry can be viewed by clicking the links in the list above. Below are sample images from each of the winning submissions:

 

 

This year’s contest jury members included:

 

The Sustainability Assessment Visualization Contest is organized by Départ de Sentier and sponsored by ecoinvent. With the goal of improving the visualization of life cycle assessment information, the contest invites entries that visualize input data, calculation results, and interpretation algorithms that can help LCA experts better express research findings and identify areas of focus for future work.

 

Congratulations to each of this year’s winners! We look forward to future editions of the contest.