Sustainability Constraints as System Boundaries. An Approach to Making Life-Cycle Management Strategic.

Document type: Journal Articles
Article type: Original article
Peer reviewed: Yes
Full text:
Author(s): Henrik Ny
Title: Sustainability Constraints as System Boundaries. An Approach to Making Life-Cycle Management Strategic.
Journal: Journal of Industrial Ecology
Year: 2006
Volume: 10
Issue: 1-2
Pagination: 61-77
ISSN: 1530-9290
Publisher: MIT Press
City: Cambridge, MA, USA
ISI number: 000235575000007
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Engineering - Dept. of Mechanical Engineering (Sektionen för ingenjörsvetenskap - avd. för maskinteknik)
School of Engineering S- 371 79 Karlskrona, School of Engineering S- 371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 38 50 00
Authors e-mail:
Language: English
Abstract: Sustainable management of materials and products requires continuous evaluation of numerous complex social, ecological, and economic factors. A number of tools and methods are emerging to support this. One of the most rigorous is life-cycle assessment (LCA). But LCAs often lack a sustainability perspective and bring about difficult trade-offs between specificity and depth, on the one hand, and comprehension and applicability, on the other. This article applies a framework for strategic sustainable development (often referred to as The Natural Step (TNS) framework) based on backcasting from basic principles for sustainability. The aim is to foster a new general approach to the management of materials and products, here termed “strategic life-cycle management.”
This includes informing the overall analysis with aspects that are relevant to a basic perspective on (1)sustainability, and (2) strategy to arrive at sustainability. The resulting overview is expected to help avoid costly assessments of flows and practices that are not critical from a sustainability and/or strategic perspective and to help identify strategic gaps in knowledge or potential problems that need further assessment. Early experience
indicates that the approach can complement some existing
tools and concepts by informing them from a sustainability
perspective—for example, current product development and LCA tools.
Subject: Mechanical Engineering\General
Keywords: backcasting, life-cycle assessment (LCA), materials management, The Natural Step (TNS), strategic life-cycle management, sustainable product development
Note: It is also published in the following licentiate thesis: Ny, H. 2006. Strategic Life-Cycle Modeling for Sustainable Product Development. Licentiate thesis, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Blekinge Institute of Technology, Karlskrona, Sweden.