“The answer is science: make a life cycle assessment and seek to minimise environmental impact”, says Pere Fullana

The director of the UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF, Pere Fullana, led a lecture in the UNESCO’s Week closing act at the Institut d’Estudis Catalans.

Fullana presented the Chair’s research lines on life cycle assessment of products and the environmental evaluation criteria.

Xarxa Civil UNESCO a Catalunya was the organiser of the seventh edition of UNESCO’s week on November 11-18.

Pere Fullana at the UNESCO's day commemoration ceremony. Credits: IEC

Pere Fullana at the UNESCO's day commemoration ceremony. Credits: IEC.

On November 17, the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC) hold the UNESCO’s day commemoration ceremony in Barcelona. The event brought a close to the UNESCO’s week, from November 11 to 18, after carrying out hundreds of activities around Catalonia. The director of the Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change ESCI-UPF, Pere Fullana, participated in the ceremony by presenting the Chair’s research lines on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the products and the environmental evaluation criteria, through practical examples.

“Pere Fullana’s presentation about the Chair was articulated in a brief, concise, and understandable language,” highlights Miquel Segura, president of the Associació UNESCO Igualada, which also leads the Centre UNESCO per la Creativitat Audiovisual, also attendant at the event . “I was pleased to listen to such clear scientific explanation,” points out Segura, taking into account that the audience was composed of general public, without specific background in science or technology.

The Chair and the Associació UNESCO Igualada had a long-standing relation. In 2010, the Associació helped to establish the Chair. Ever since then, “the relations continue and will remain in the future  because we all ara UNESCO,” stresses Segura.

 

Life Cycle Assessment for everyone

Fullana introduced the Chair and its functions by using practical day-to-day examples that caught the attention of the audience. The first one helped to understand the life cycle perspective and its environmental repercussions, such as carbon footprint. “When we perform a life cycle assessment, we not only analyse the carbon footprint of the  product, but also a range of environmental categories. If we improve one thing, we can see whether or not there is another that gets worst ”, argues the expert in LCA methodologies.

The following case started with an open question, “Do you want to recycle?”, to make the audience reflect. The director mentioned the circular economy concept drived by the European Union, and raised a debate about whether it was more convenient to build a box of fruit cardboard, wood or plastic. “The answer is science: make a life cycle assessment to analyse in what conditions one material is better than another”, answered Fullana.

The third example was related to recycling and its limitations. The problem consisted in discussing if it was necessary to send three trucks to the top of a hermitage to collect the  different waste separately or send only one and make a later triage. After assessing that the most efficient option is to use the least number of possible vehicles, Fullana concluded that “we must seek the minimum environmental impact, which will not always be 100% of recycling”, as happened in this case.

The last point was based on a project of the Universitat de Girona (UdG) that shows how applying nanofibers to cellulose paper, it wents from three recycling cycles to seven. “But this is good or bad?”, asked Fullana, starting an intimate debate in each of the attendees. Using a graphic, the director put emphasis on the need to decide whether to recycle more and use fewer resources, which would mean an economic saving but a greater environmental impact, or not recycle as much but have less impact on climate change.

At the end of the presentation, Fullana said goodbye with his gratitude for having the chance to share the Chair’s objectives in a cultural centre of reference such as the Institut d’Estudis Catalans, and on such a special day for  UNESCO. Outreach initiatives like this serve to bring  the world of science and research closer to  society. In this line, Segura proposes “establishing a network to disseminate the activity of the Chairs.

View the video of Dr Pere Fullana's presentation:

 

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