Recently Ecomatters presented in Japan on the EcoBalance conference in his 2018 edition. The EcoBalance conferences was organized by the Institute of Life Cycle Assessment, Japan (ILCAJ) and took place in Tokyo. This year the theme of the conference was “Nexus of ideas: Innovation by linking through life cycle thinking”. We presented our work on monetization and on the status of the PEF in the paint industry in two very interesting sessions. Overall it was a good conference, especially interesting to see issues we work with on a daily basis explained from a more international perspective.
Resource use is an underestimated and difficult issue
In addition to our being able to present our own work we also noticed that one of the main topics this year in the conference was Materials Criticality and resource use. Although everybody sees the relevance it is not always a problem as such. For example, use of resources is OK since we need them to create prosperity in many nations by creating houses and food. We also need a lot of materials to create windmills, solar panels, batteries etc that are needed to make the transition to a more sustainable world. In fact, creating all these assets will, on the short run, create a strain on resource use. This means that if are moving away from fossil fuels we should also take into account the resources needed to do that and more importantly the negative environment and societal effect that could come with that.
Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to solve all this. Directions like the circular economy play an important role: by closing loops and rethinking how we do things the strain on resources could be reduced. Then there is still a lot to do to manage the increasingly apparent negative effect relating to our increasing resource use.
Overall the main lesson to learn is that on order for us to live in stable way with the world around us we cannot fix one issue without looking at the larger impacts on the system and mainly how we as humans use the world.