Meeting the challenges of sustainability head on requires new ways of thinking about how we make things, including understanding the full environmental impacts of a product from cradle to grave. That is where a GreenStep Life Cycle Analysis comes into play.
Analyzing PrePregs for INCA
INCA Renewable Technologies (INCA), an Alberta based company, manufactures INCA PrePregs, hemp-based compression moldable panels used for automotive interiors. Through scientific analysis, INCA PrePregs have been found to be lighter in weight, have greater strength, and have a smaller environmental footprint than conventional alternatives.
The INCA Revolution
INCA is an expert in plant genomics, hemp cultivation, fiber processing and composites manufacturing, with a mission to create products that actually sequester carbon and reduce deforestation and plastics pollution. They are leaders in natural fiber composites, providing high performance, alternative materials to meet sustainability demand in major industries, including transportation, consumer products and building material suppliers.
“INCA Renewtech is partnering with Toyota to create a circular economy for automotive interiors. We brought GreenStep onboard to independently confirm the sustainability performance of our hemp-based INCA PrePregs. Our PrePregs will not only sequester carbon for centuries, but be lighter and stronger which means better fuel efficiency and safer cars. Plus they will significantly reduce environmental impacts during the manufacturing process.” – Camille Saltman, Chief Marketing & Sustainability Officer
The objective of this life cycle analysis was to calculate the potential environmental impacts (carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), water, and waste) of INCA PrePregs compared to other competing, conventional, non-hemp alternatives.
Why Conduct a Life Cycle Analysis?
At GreenStep, when performing a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), our team evaluates the impacts of a product throughout every stage of its life cycle, from cradle to grave, including:
- Extraction and processing
- Distribution and use
- Recycling or final disposal
The outcome of these analyses then provide the client with the information needed to further reduce environmental impacts throughout the product life cycle.
GreenStep’s approach for tackling a LCA follows the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard, as well as ISO standards when appropriate.
After performing a LCA of INCA’s PrePregs product, we found that, when compared to natural fibre nonwovens, 1 square metre of PrePregs reduces:
- Carbon emissions by 27%
- Waste by 30%
- Water consumption by 68%
Based on the data collected and assumptions made for this LCA, while not forgoing the limitations and exclusions, the results showed that INCA’s PrePregs product significantly reduces carbon emissions, water consumption, and waste generation, as compared to its conventional alternative.
Measuring a product’s impacts is complex but having the knowledge and data necessary to demonstrate a higher level of environmental performance can be an important competitive advantage. A life cycle analysis is commonly recognized as one of the most effective methods of evaluating and comparing the impact of products on the environment, which can also then lead to identifying specific opportunities for improvement. These opportunities can include a reduced carbon footprint, reduced resource and input requirements, and reduced costs, which all lead to becoming more resilient in the face of climate change, and being part of the solution.