What challenges do you focus on in your research?
"With growing environmental degradation comes an increasing need for guidance to citizens, companies and governments on actions for reducing environmental burdens. Fortunately, many guidelines have been formulated, telling us the best ways to deal with products, be it to use less, recycle, reuse or share. But many of these guidelines are based on simplified descriptions, neglecting real-world complexities. For example, if a guideline tells consumers to reuse products, how can that be applied to the food they eat? Or that they should repair their products, but their estimations indicate that replacing their old car with a more fuel-efficient model would be preferable to repairing it?"
How do you address the problem with your research?
"My research explores ways of developing useful guidance that actually leads to reduced environmental impacts. One way is to calculate products’ environmental burden in order to identify solutions that improve environmental performance. I used life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology in the case of future 3D-printing of truck engines. I also used LCA to investigate whether renting clothes instead of selling them can reduce environmental impacts while maintaining a company’s profit. To do this comparison, we had to invent a new way of calculating environmental impacts of business models, that was named business model LCA (BM-LCA)."
"Apart from carrying out such environmental calculations, another way to develop guidance is to go through lots of existing assessments of solutions expected to be environmentally benign, to try to learn something from them collectively. By doing this, it was possible to formulate guidelines for working solutions for different types of products."
What are the main findings of your research?
"One of the key results were the guidelines showing what resource efficiency solutions are suitable for different types of products, while taking into account the trade-offs that have to be navigated. Another key result was the developed BM-LCA method. It was applied on a case comparing renting and selling of polyester jackets by a Swedish company, showing that renting can reduce the company’s environmental impacts while maintaining their economic performance."
What do you hope your research will lead to?
"I hope my research will enable more nuanced guidance that is more likely to improve environmental performance. I also hope that the developed method, BM-LCA, will find further use in assessing different business models, and hopefully awaken some debate to help bridge the gap between the worlds of business and environmental assessment."
Text compilation: Daniel Karlsson