Life cycle assessment and eco-innovations: What kind of convergence is possible?

Wladmir Henriques Motta*, Liz Rejane Issberner, Patricia Prado

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Generation of goods and services are highly dependent on the use of natural resources. Until very recently, there was an implicit belief that the physical expansion of the economic system could be unlimited, as if the planet would have conditions and time enough to recover and continue to supply resources. This belief implies a confidence in an economic system that would provide whatever is necessary for a continuous growing production and consumption. Even believing that technology alone is not enough to solve the current environmental problems, it is certain that it can collaborate to mitigate climate change and to adaptation to changes in the environment. By bringing environmental aspects into discussions, eco-innovations can affect and transform the innovation system in order to create sustainable processes. However, the main challenge towards the transition to a more sustainable, cleaner and more equitable society is to set innovation in a new context, as until very recently it only considered the economic variables. This change means to value the social and environmental dimension of the innovation. In addition to eco-innovation, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is spreading in the industrial environment, offering promising perspectives. LCA is considered a valuable methodology in the environmental sustainability of industry. In this context, the present study addresses LCA and its relationship with the generation of eco-innovations. Drawing on contributions from literature on eco-innovation and LCA, the paper analyses available evidence on this relationship in a context of the transition towards sustainable development. To structure the debate, the paper offers a conceptual approach and an illustrative case on international researchers' and practitioners’ perceptions on the potentially positive relationship between eco-innovation and LCA. The study gathers data in the Web of Science (WoS) Core Collection and in Scopus, in order to provide a picture of the distribution of documents retrieved from these databases, dealing with both eco-innovation and LCA topics. The paper concludes that the convergence of the eco-innovation and LCA studies is quite plausible, but at least in its initial phase, the literature that unites both themes is scarcely found in publications in the area of innovation, being more frequent in the area of engineering and management that usually addresses LCA studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1103-1114
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume187
Early online date23 Mar 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

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