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Scientifically developed LCA methodologies to improve your carbon footprint of chemicals and sustainability competitive edge

Sustainability as a business growth driver; companies and governments need to respond to a large variety of economic, environmental and social challenges and opportunities, such as formulated by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To translate sustainability needs into real new business, they need to accurately measure and successfully manage the risks and opportunities. But how to distinguish green business from green washing?

TNO can help you. We develop and apply sustainability methodologies based on the latest scientific insights. Our TNO scientists conduct an expert approach to identify your specific needs and implement the right sustainability information methodologies in your organization. As a consequence, companies can improve the quality and robustness of their decision making and generate sustainable businesses.

Developing sustainable businesses require the right information

In order to establish sustainability as a business driver and improve the decision making companies are often confronted with questions such as:

  • What is the carbon footprint benefit of my product for my customers?
  • How do I communicate my sustainability claims in my marketing and sales campaigns?
  • Do I need to make one or more LCA analyses for comparable products in my product folio?
  • How does a biobased feedstock impact the carbon footprint of my product?
  • How do I develop more sustainable new products that meet the circular economy demands?
  • How do I assess my sustainability and set KPI’s to improve my strategic decision making?

Do you recognize one or more of these FAQ’s or do you have other issues to grow your sustainability business? Then read how our TNO scientists could help you.

TNO: 30 year track record in LCA methodologies

We believe it is essential that companies assess the sustainability in their business processes with hard facts, if possible quantitatively. Therefore they need reliable and scientifically sound data based on sound LCA methodologies.

TNO is an independent research laboratory. Since 1985 we have been developing LCA methodologies based on the latest scientific insights and translate these in practically applicable methods and tools to make sustainability tangible and measurable and hence improve your strategic business decisions.  TNO has executed a lot of studies and research, see examples below:  

  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of many products, such as coatings, biobased polymers, food ingredients and chemicals
  • Eco-efficiency analyses (combination of environmental and economic analyses)
  • Sustainability analyses of products, production chains and production networks, also combinations of chemicals and products containing chemicals
  • Strategic assessments of future, innovative (technological) developments and scenarios, e.g. for nanotechnology, biobased products or carbon capture, storage and use
  • Circular economy issues: reuse, recycling, recovery of polymers, biobased feedstocks and chemicals
  • End-of-Life assessments for coatings and, including innovations for end-of-life scenarios
Figure 1. LCA study to the environmental impact for shopping bags (‘Doortastend’), for the Dutch Knowledge Institute of Sustainable Packaging, 2014.

TNO has conducted a study to disposable shopping bags, see figure 1. Based on our conclusions we have recommended governments and industrial parties to optimize their policies by supporting  the re-use of disposable bags made out of recycled plastics. In contradiction to the overall consumer perception, we found that wood based paper bags have a significant higher environmental impact than recycled plastic bags. This study also provides clear guidance to more sustainable solutions.
For more information read: Fewer bags, sustainable (re)use and good practice

Figure 2. Carbon footprint comparison of bio-based and fossil-based ethanol.

TNO can support you to identify your sustainability benefits during the development of new bio-based chemicals, coatings and polymers. Or we help you to generate sound marketing & sales sustainability claims. Figure 2 shows an example for different ethanol products. Ethanol from fossil-based ethylene has a lower carbon footprint than ethanol from sugar cane. However, ethanol from sugar beet appears to be the most sustainable product.  In contradiction to our intuition, this analysis shows that bio-based chemicals are not always more sustainable than their fossil based alternatives.

Figure 3. Snapshot of benchmark study of 21 sustainability assessment methodologies.

[green = suitable, yellow = relevant, light yellow = potentially relevant, pink = not very suited, red = not suited]

A number of companies have a sustainability assessment method in place. TNO has recently benchmarked the effectiveness of 21 existing methods. This evaluation framework is a basis for a reference methodology which is suitable for all business processes within manufacturing companies. Figure 3 shows that all existing methods have drawbacks in measuring the sustainability, particularly for operations. Based on this benchmark study TNO helps companies to implement the most powerful sustainability assessment method in their organization.

Figure 4. The Dutch chemical sector influences to 40% of the total CO2 emissions in The Netherlands (2013).

By means of sector life-cycle-analysis,TNO provides insights for industry partners and governments about the effect of measures to reduce their carbon footprint. In the report CO2 roadmap 2050 we have underpinned that the chemical sector has opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint with a factor 3.

Figure 5. Infographic on LICARA nano SCAN for the case of nanosilver microfiber cloth.

Materials can have a quite different environmental and health impact when processed and used on a nano-scale.  In the EU FP7 LICARA project TNO and their partners have developed  a unique life cycle analysis and human risk impact assessment tool for SME’s to assess the benefits and risks of nanomaterials in different applications.  In the project the use silver nano-particles in microfiber in cloths has been evaluated, see figure 5. This expertise can be used during the development of coatings, conductive inks, or polymers in which metallic, carbon-nano-tubes, graphene or ceramic nano-particles play a vital role.
Licara website (If you don't have an account, you can register here.)

What do we do?

TNO offers a wide range of services to companies, associations and governments with their LCA and decision making challenges. Before we offer our services we listen to your request and make a joint assessment. Based on that we mostly offer an tailored approach to meet your needs.

TNO offers

  • Advanced Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
  • Converting LCA impacts into monetary impacts (so-called shadow prices)
  • Sustainable Growth Metrics: TNO approach to reveal the right information in your company to create more competitive edge in sustainability.
  • Opportunity to join Joint Industrial Program: 'Sustainable Chemical Product Performance'

Interested in more information? Please contact us

Do you want to growth your sustainability business and want to know how we can help you? Please contact us.



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