VITO helps governments and businesses with their transition to life-cycle thinking and analyses the entire value chain. That way of thinking inspires the reduction of any impact on the environment, coupled with material cycles.

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Life-cycle thinking aims to improve the environmental impact of a product over its entire life-cycle. From raw material extraction to production and distribution, consumption and final disposal.

This provides a scientific basis for governments and companies when carrying out sustainability assessments. In addition to reducing material and energy consumption or waste production, sustainability assessments also lead to a more environmentally friendly product range (eco)design and a greener image.

A calculated image using life-cycle analysis (LCA)

VITO makes life-cycle thinking quantifiable with the LCA method (Life-Cycle Assessment). We conduct LCA studies in accordance with the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards and the guidelines of the ILCD Manual and PEF guide of the European Commission.

Since an LCA study quantifies the impact of all relevant emissions and raw materials and consumables used at every stage of a product, the problem is avoided whereby solving one environmental problem leads to another or whereby a positive effect during a particular part of the cycle has a negative effect somewhere else. LCA thus contributes to a higher level of value chain and material cycle sustainability, from a global perspective.

Expertise supports and inspires policy-makers

In addition to specific life-cycle analyses, VITO also focuses on the valorisation of waste. For years VITO has been examining the valorisation potential of specific waste streams for companies, governments and sector organisations. This makes VITO very well placed to carry out survey studies on recycling and alternative materials. As an example, VITO participated in a study on the use of construction waste as a building material (client OVAM). VITO also studied the potential in Belgium to reuse or recycle fibre-reinforced plastics. VITO was a partner in the Monitoring Sustainable Surface Minerals Policy (MDO) study. For the Centre for Sustainable Materials Management, VITO mapped the evolution of supply and demand of sand in Flanders. We also investigated how the collection targets for electrical and electronic equipment waste (WEEE) can be established and how its potential valorisation can be mapped (in terms of environmental benefits, recycling closure and recovery of critical materials). VITO also examined the effectiveness of Flemish gravel subsidies for the Research Committee of the Gravel Fund.

VITO also participated in the design of the Flemish input-output model (IO model). This is useful for policy preparatory studies in the context of sustainable management. IO models include an economic and an ecological component. They give policy-makers an insight into the (changing) structure of production, consumption, import / export, and map the contributions of the various sectors (economy, environment and employment).

Useful links

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/ipp/lca.htm

http://eplca.jrc.ec.europa.eu/

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