Pioneering projects from Brazil, South Africa and Zimbabwe receive environmental "life-cycle" awards

New publication on life cycle management released at awards ceremony

Zurich, 28 August 2007 - Pioneering new research to measure the environmental impact of sugar production in South Africa, newsprint paper production in Zimbabwe and new approaches to assess impacts on biodiversity in Brazil have been recognized today by a new award from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

"UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Award" recognises work from academics and private companies in developing and emerging economies who have started visionary and innovative projects based on the "cradle to cradle" or "life cycle approach".

The "life cycle approach" concerns the impacts on the environment of a product's production, use and disposal. "The growing attention to life cycle issues is a natural outcome of decades of UNEP work on cleaner production and ecoefficient industrial systems," said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

"As pressure on the environment goes through mostly unsustainable production and consumption patterns worldwide, there is an urgent need to encourage life cycle thinking in developing and emerging economies," said Arab Hoballah, Chief of the Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch in UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics.

"The new award that UNEP has initiated with the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry supports relevant life-cycle research and associated activities in these countries" added Mr Hoballah, who presented the awards in Zurich today.

The award ceremony was held back-to-back with the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Management 2007 conference.

This year's winners of the new UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Award include Kevin Harding and the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town, for their assessment of sugar production in South Africa, Charles Mbohwa and his team from the Mechanical Engineering Department in the University of Zimbabwe for its earlier research on the life-cycle of newsprint paper, and Danielle Maia de Souza and the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina for their work on adapting life-cycle approaches to measure the impacts of unsustainable practices on Brazil's biodiversity.

Three other projects concerned with waste in Taiwan, chocolate production in Ghana, and the creation of a "Brazilian Centre of Excellence on Life Cycle Thinking" were recognized as runner-ups.

In 2006, over 30 projects on life cycle approaches from developing economies were evaluated and 23 selected and supported with complimentary commercial software and databases made available by Pré Consultants (SimaPro), ifu Hamburg (Umberto), PE INTERNATIONAL (GaBi), Ecobilan (TEAM), ecoinvent Centre (ecoinvent Database) and IVAM (IVAM Database).

During the award ceremony, the new UNEP publication 'Life Cycle Management: A Business Guide to Sustainability' was also launched. "This publication is a contribution to UNEP's activities to promote more sustainable consumption and production patterns,".said Achim Steiner. "It is a next step in broadening the horizons of pollution prevention; a process which has gone from a focus on production processes, to products and then to product-systems and to sustainable innovation. It also contributes to the 10-year framework of programmes mandated by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.

In the new publication, companies such as Airbus, Nokia and Ford explain how it is possible to expand their business while minimising the environmental and social burdens along their entire product life cycles.

Notes to Editors:

Copies of the new publication can be accessed from

The UNEP SETAC Life Cycle Initiative was launched in 2002. It aims to develop and disseminate practical tools for evaluating the opportunities, risks, and trade-offs associated with products and services over their entire life cycle to achieve sustainable development. For more information please see: or

contact: Mr. Robert Bisset, UNEP Spokesperson for Europe on Tel: 33 1 4437 7613, Mob: 33 6 2272 5842, e-mail:

Inquiries concerning the submissions for the 2008 UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Award (closing date 31 October 2007) should be sent to:


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