Chalmers Conferences, LCM 2013

Ann-Marie Tillman, Emma Rex

Last modified: 2014-09-11


The life cycle approach holds great opportunity for environmental, and more broadly, sustainability, work. Through its systemic cradle-to-grave approach it reduces risks of sub-optimization and problem shifting from one part of the life cycle to another or from one type of impact to another. It brings new insights about how action in one part of the life cycle may give effects far upstream or downstream the product chain, perhaps in vastly distant geographical locations. In this respect it is an empowering concept, which brings new opportunities for influence, beyond organizational and national borders. Many different types of actors, consumers as well as producers and policy makers, hold the potential to render product chains more sustainable. And yet, none of them fully control the chain.
It is no easy task to make use of these new insights and opportunities of influence in practical work. The management of life cycles implies a new logic for governance, focusing the purposive flow of material instead of the nation or the company. Furthermore, it is not enough to understand the physical material flow and the physical relationships in the life cycle. It must also be understood how the actors managing the physical flow between them organize the flow.
To achieve life cycle action many different perspectives, scientific as well as practical, need to be placed on the material flows which constitute the production and consumption of the world. The 6th International Conference on Life Cycle Management (LCM 2013) invited social scientists and engineers/natural scientists to try and bridge the gap between them and use their different perspectives to create a richer understanding of how product life cycles may be managed sustainably. Likewise, practitioners from policy, industry and NGOs were invited to give their perspectives and experiences from managing product life cycles.
Contributions were invited under three sub-themes, in themselves constituting different perspectives on the management of life cycles for sustainable value chains:
Local versus global perspectives in life cycle work - Product life cycles stretches all over the globe. And yet, action may often only be taken more locally, within a production site, a company, a nation or a settlement. The relationships between local and global perspectives constitute one of the sub-themes of the conference.
Roles and responsibilities in product life cycles and value chains - The role play between producers, consumers and policy makers is a key to sustainable governance of life cycles. Of particular interest is finding ways to share the responsibility in a meaningful way.
Conceptions of sustainable product life cycles and value chains - In our world with a growing population with increasing material expectations, sustainable production and consumption patterns are crucial. There are many theoretical and practical approaches to this issue. The third sub-theme addresses how sustainable product life cycles may be conceived of, and how the different perspectives may complement or conflict to each other.
Guided by these three sub-themes over 90 suggestions for sessions were made and more than 500 abstracts were submitted to the conference. Based on these contributions the scientific program for LCM 2013 was moulded to cover some 30 different topics. It was a tough task to select contributions from the wide array of high quality abstracts submitted. In this work, we have had invaluable help from our international Scientific and business committee, consisting of more than 70 people from universities, governmental organizations, institutes, non-governmental organizations and business.
For the final program, around 200 oral and 150 poster presentations were selected. All contributions were offered to prepare a short paper, resulting in more than 230 papers which you now can enjoy in these conference proceedings. They cover many different aspects of life cycle management, ranging from the role of LCM in policy making to the challenges and opportunities LCM presents to industrial companies, in strategy and in several specific fields of application, including communication and labeling, production, and innovation and product development. Also management of natural resources and waste management emerged as important topics and specific industries (e.g. food and retail) are high-lighted in some sessions.
LCM 2013 builds on a series of conferences which has grown to be one of the world’s leading events on sustainability. The first LCM conference was held in Copenhagen in 2001 and had LCM as a bridge to sustainable products as its theme. The second conference in the series was held in Barcelona in 2005 and focused Innovation by life cycle management. The third conference in Zürich in 2007 high-lighted From analysis to implementation and the forth in Cape Town in 2009 had The global challenge of managing life cycles as its theme. The motto of the 2011 LCM conference in Berlin was Towards life cycle sustainability management.
In you (virtual) hand you now hold the proceedings from the 6th international conference on life cycle management, arranged in Gothenburg 2013. Enjoy!