Dr. Nydia Suppen Reynaga
Director General
Centro de Análisis de Ciclo de Vida y Diseño Sustentable (CADIS)
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View from the Top

LCA as Tool of Choice for Parastatals

Wed, 02/24/2016 - 16:22

Q: How has the perception and role of CADIS been evolving this last year?

A: CADIS is a center specialized in life cycle assessment (LCA) and sustainable design that operates in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. For ten years we have implemented this methodology to assess the potential environmental impact of an organization’s products, processes, or services. LCA is interlinked to energy and environmental policies. It is important for companies to know how they interact with the environment and the true impact of their operations. These assessments are applied in a practical way during the policymaking process in Mexico, allowing companies to visualize how they consume fossil fuels and the opportunities they have to transition into cleaner energy sources. Additionally, LCA forms part of the United Nations’ sustainable production and consumption strategy that was signed in Marrakesh and is now entering its next ten-year phase. Once LCA is implemented, a metric can be developed to provide information on how resources and energy are being used and how clean and renewable energies can be incorporated.

Q: How have the two productive enterprises of the State, CFE and PEMEX, implemented LCA into their own processes?

A: The first to consider LCA as a tool for internal decision making were these two players. In the case of CFE, we carried out a project that was managed by CONACYT, where we evaluated the different types of technologies with the exception of nuclear. This enabled CFE to examine and understand the impacts of energy generation from different technologies. PEMEX began implementing LCA in 2005- 2006 in areas such as petrochemical. PEMEX Petrochemicals analyzed the environmental impact of recycling oils and solvents used through LCA. It also carried out an LCA on the production process of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) in the Cangreja Petrochemical Complex. Lastly, PEMEX estimated the reduction of greenhouse gases for its cogeneration project in the Morelos Petrochemical Complex.

With LCA, metrics can be obtained that provide visibility across the supply chain, enabling companies to communicate more efficiently with their suppliers. LCA allows a dialogue with important stakeholders within the supply chain, and it makes companies realize the impact they have on the environment. LCA is not limited to industrial players or companies that make consumer products; governments, research centers, and even any kind of service enterprise can benefit from this assessment.

Q: What role have you played in the development of international standards and local norms to be adopted by industries across Mexico?

A: As a Mexican delegate for LCA standards in ISO, I have been involved in the development of strategies in carbon footprint, and water and waste management. I was involved in the development of the Water Footprint ISO 14046 as co-convener within Technical Committee 207. The first collaboration was seen ten years ago when we helped the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) area incorporate LCA data in order to align the results of companies and those collected by the authorities. Another important actor in global reporting and analysis is the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC). 

This institution focuses its reports on key industries like transportation, housing, and construction. We have worked with INECC and CONAVI in developing analyses that incorporate LCA for public policies like INFONAVIT and the green mortgage.

The construction industry is leading the implementation of LCA since players are adopting this methodology and following sustainable strategies. All these endeavors will ultimately lead to urban sustainability. SEMARNAT is pouring its efforts into constructing a program surrounding sustainable consumption and production. This program will target different sectors ranging from tourism, construction, eco labelling, and research. The authorities are also developing an eco-labelling project, which is related to the creation of a water and carbon footprint scheme.

Q: What role will CADIS play in the implementation of sustainability in the energy markets?

A: Environmental LCA has been around since the 1970s. One of the drawbacks is that large amounts of data are required and in some regions there is a lack thereof. Sustainability consists of three pillars: economic, social, and environmental, and the biggest area of opportunity for CADIS lies in social LCA. CADIS is aiming to become a leader in topics related to LCA and sustainability, and become a key player in helping companies opt for sustainable decision making.