The ENSURE Action provides the knowledge-basis for policies and
community initiatives that target specific issues related to end-of-life
processes, such as reducing risks of dioxin emissions from incineration
or assessing contaminated sites. But, as stated in the Waste Framework
Directive as well as the SCP Action Plan, these end-of-life processes
cannot be considered in isolation. This Action therefore complements
these through Life Cycle Thinking and associated Assessments (LCA).
Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) help decision-makers answer questions such
as "What is the best environmental option for recovering materials and
energy from biowaste?" and "What are globally the environmental impacts
attributable to the EU-27's consumption of resources and waste?".
Climate change, effects on biodiversity from land use, and other impacts
as well as resource scarcity are all taken into account in one integrated framework of comparative indicators. Combining these
indicators through socio-economic weighting helps to avoid the shifting of burdens.
The ENSURE Action is developing a series of life cycle-based technical
guidance documents with associated pilot studies. These not only support
end-of-life policies, but equally the closely related environmental
assessment needs of eco-design applications in general, of eco-labels
such as carbon footprints, the assessment of indirect environmental
effects in eco-management and auditing schemes (EMAS), as well as
identification of the important attributes in environmental technology verification (ETV).
Robust foundations for SCP are assured by expertise through the European
Platform on LCA, established by DG ENV with the JRC's IES. This supports
the development of the International Reference Life Cycle Data System
(ILCD) as well as the European Reference Life Cycle Database (ELCD).
With ESTAT, working also closely with the EEA and DG ENV via the
Environmental Data Centres, life cycle based indicators are being
developed for wastes, products, and natural resources to facilitate SCP
monitoring at the EU and Member State levels. These SCP indicators
account for the environmental impacts and resources consumed that are
associated with goods and services, taking into account their supply,
use, as well as end-of-life processes. These equally provide important
sub-indicators, such as Carbon Footprints as well as the basis to monitor environmental and economic decoupling.
Complementing these broad assessments, the ENSURE Action provides
cutting-edge modelling and monitoring for specific end-of-life issues.
In supporting specific policy support needs, these research activities
equally contribute to international initiatives such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
Bringing together the life cycle, analytical, and modelling expertise,
pilot studies focus on services such as wastewater treatment including
sewage sludge as well as on end-of-life processes linked to biowaste,
composting, recycling, contaminated sites, managing construction waste and waste-to-energy (biofuels).
Key International Activities
- Neighbouring countries, candidate countries, and other Non European
Union Nations: Agreements with China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Brazil,
and US in relation to supporting internationally coherent and
quality-assured life cycle data, methods, and studies, as required by
the Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Action Plan.
- Formal interactions with World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to contribute to developing a robust,
quality-assured life cycle basis for the Carbon eco-labels (footprints),
including as an input to international standards, private schemes, and activities of DG ENV.
- United Nations Environment Program (UNEP): 1) Implementation of
EC/UNEP MoU and JRC/UNEP Collaboration Agreement in relation to global
interactions for coherent and quality-assured life cycle data, methods,
and studies. 2) to contribute to the development of the Toolkit for
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)/Dioxin emissions in the frame of the Stockholm Convention implementation.