September 2023 The Shift e-newsletter
Spiber Webinar | CILCA | ACLCA | Welcome Cesar | Upcoming Training
Benchmarking, Storytelling, and Mitigating: How Spiber, a Cutting-Edge Biotechnology Company, Applies LCA
DATE: September 21, 2023
TIME: 1-2pm ET
PRESENTER: Sunita Darbe, Vice President of Sustainability, Spiber, Inc.
Spiber Inc developed and manufactures Brewed ProteinTM fibers through fermentation (brewing) of plant-based ingredients. This new class of fiber is created using Spiber?s proprietary technology platform that enables customized design and molecular engineering of nature-inspired protein polymers.
Spiber started its first ISO 14044 compliant cradle-to-gate comparative life cycle assessment in 2021, in advance of the opening of its first commercial production facility. The primary goals were to understand, communicate, and improve the environmental benefits of the product in the first target market of luxury textile fibers. Since then, Spiber has also implemented on-going internal life cycle assessment as a key pillar of its internal environmental footprint monitoring and mitigation planning, from identifying climate transition opportunities to determining the materiality of environmental hotspots.
In the webinar, we will introduce Spiber Inc and Brewed Protein fiber, walk through the initial comparative LCA study, and share how our LCA has provided value in external communications and our vision for addressing the hotspots we have identified.
Sunita Darbe received a SB from MIT and a Ph.D from Caltech in Materials Science where her research focused on renewable energy technologies. After Caltech, she moved to Japan to work as a material scientist at Spiber Inc. Now, Sunita leads Spiber’s Environmental Footprint Management section. Sunita led the team responsible for Spiber’s first LCA report. She is also responsible for coordinating across the Spiber Group to develop and implement the company’s environmental impact mitigation strategy—including its climate transition plan. She and her team focus on quantifying and reducing the environmental impact of Spiber’s protein fiber production process while also supporting external communication about environmental benefits to communicate the value of Brewed Protein™ material.
CILCA 2023: A Healthy, Growing Latin American LCA Community and an EarthShift Global LCA on a Bioderived Cashmere and Wool Alternative
The biennial CILCA International Conference of Life Cycle Assessment in Latin America marked its 20thanniversary in Viña del Mar, Chile, this July, and the large number of participants and presentations showed clearly that the Latin American LCA community is healthy and growing.
EarthShift Global senior sustainability analyst Juanita Barrera was in attendance as a presenter, discussing the results of an LCA for Spiber, an innovator in bioderived fibers that is developing sustainable alternatives to cashmere, merino wool, and other traditional textiles, and also shared some observations from the event.
“I was interested to see that universities are starting to include LCA as mandatory classes because this is becoming a differentiator for when people graduate and look for a job,” notes Juanita. “And there was quite a bit of discussion of circularity indicators, and how those are being integrated into LCA software; it’s a sign of broader interest.”
Another sign of how the LCA community is evolving is the upcoming publication of a new handbook on Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) from a worldwide group of authors and editors. “LCSA refers to the evaluation of all environmental, social, and economic impacts and benefits in decision-making processes, and the handbook includes guidance for implementation, principles, and data. It could be quite helpful for making products sustainable throughout their life cycle,” says Juanita.
Juanita’s presentation covered a cradle-to-gate LCA that quantified and compared the relative environmental performance of Spiber’s Brewed Protein™ fibers, which use plant-derived ingredients and are manufactured from protein powder through a proprietary fermentation process. The study also aimed to identify environmental impacts of prospective production scenarios to understand environmental hotspots and help set strategies to avoid impacts.
Earthshift Global Supports ACLCA and the Advancement of Life Cycle Assessment
EarthShift Global (ESG) is a leading contributor to the upcoming ACLCA Institute and Annual Conference happening September 25-28th in Burlington, VT.
The ACLCA Institute is chaired by Tom Etheridge, ESG Senior Sustainability Advisor. Tom researches and invites LCA contributors to share their knowledge and expertise to ACLCA Institute presenters. Among this year's presenters are Lise Laurin, ESG CEO who is presenting on the Use of Underspecification in LCA with Randy Kirchain from MIT. Also presenting at the conference are Nathan Ayer, ESG Director of Analytical Services and Bryton Moeller, ESG Design & Project Lead.
Earthshift Global is a sponsor of the student poster contest as well as the overall event. Attending the conference and staffing the ESG booth are Karen Martinsen Fleming, ESG CMO, and Tess Konnovitch, ESG Data Visualization Specialist.
Come by and say hello!
Sustainability Analyst César Camou Brings Materials, Electronics, and Business Experience to LCA
César Camou, EarthShift Global’s newest sustainability analyst, began learning about sustainability and entrepreneurship at an early age by helping out at his father’s electronics shop, which specialized in professional video repairs.
“My dad let me play with components and learn to connect equipment; we saw firsthand the transition from analog electronics, which had long life and could be repaired, to digital, which mostly just required replacement,” César recalls. “Later a friend and I started buying used electronic equipment to repair and resell, and it was shocking to see all that was being wasted. I became very interested in waste management and the environmental impacts it generates.”
The experience prompted him to enter a bachelor’s degree program in Sustainable Materials Science at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where his undergraduate thesis focused on recycling metals from broken smartphone screens. An LCA of the recycling process was a logical next step, and César was invited into an LCA-oriented working group by a professor who would become his adviser on a master’s degree in Sustainability Science. In that program César met and worked with Joel Bonales Revuelta, who is now an EarthShift Global sustainability analyst, and began to focus his efforts on projects related to biomass and local production chains.
Upcoming Online Training
Introduction to Sustainable Return on Investment (S-ROI)
September 12, 2023
Impact Assessment Methods
September 13, 2023
Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment
October 4-5, 2023
Integrating Sustainability into the Organization
October 25-26, 2023