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The CIRAIG announces one of the world’s largest life cycle research partnerships

November 30, 2017 - Source : NEWS

The International Reference Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services (CIRAIG) announced a new five-year partnership as part of the International Life Cycle (ILC) Chair with nine major organizations in Québec and around the world: ArcelorMittal, Hydro-Québec, LVMH, Michelin, Nestlé, Optel, Solvay, Total and Umicore.

Building on the knowledge gained in its two previous mandates and the new research techniques made possible by artificial intelligence and data science, the ILC Chair will work to address a number of key issues, including the decarbonisation of production and consumption activities, efficient resource and energy use, materials flow circularity, planetary limits, optimal complex systems integration, ecosystem services and the need to align economic development and social needs.

The ILC Chair emerged from a partnership between Polytechnique Montréal and the School of Management (ESG UQAM). Benefitting from $4.25M in investments, it combines engineering and social sciences. Driven by a community of practice and the pooling of partner contributions, the Chair remains open to new collaborations.

Based in Montréal, the ILC Chair seeks to consolidate its presence in Europe, particularly through a privileged research collaboration with Professor François Maréchal from École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne. The Chair will be led by chairholder Professor Réjean Samson from Polytechnique Montréal and the three co-chairs, Professors Manuele Margni (Polytechnique Montréal), Nicolas Merveille and Cécile Bulle (both from ESG UQAM). The team brings together 50 people, as well as graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The Chair will also gain from the synergies created by its vast network of experts and international collaborations.



In the past decade, the ILC Chair has become a reference in sustainability assessment. Remarkable scientific developments arose from the first (2007–2011) and second (2012–2016) mandates carried out with international partners in key economic sectors, including energy, transport, metals, chemicals, retail, food, financial services, aerospace, waste management and pulp and paper.

A few highlights

■ Launch of IMPACT World+, the first global method to coherently assess regionalized life cycle impacts |

■ Development of the Québec life cycle inventory database |

■ Leading WULCA, a working group of the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme/SETAC (Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry) Life Cycle Initiative to set out an international consensus to assess water use impacts in LCA (life cycle analysis) with some 100 experts in 21 countries |

■ Major contribution to the creation of USEtox, a consensus-based model endorsed by UNEP to assess toxic impacts in LCA |

■ Contribution as partners to the WBCSD’s (World Business Council for Sustainable Development)statement of principles entitled Towards a Social Capital Protocol – A Call for Collaboration |




“ArcelorMittal has been involved in the CIRAIG Chair since its first mandate in 2007. The Chair’s balanced program, which combines basic research and applied projects, enabled our Sustainability R&D team to maintain our level of expertise and develop our practices based on new concepts such as MFA (material flow analysis) and the circular economy. As part of this third mandate, we will work in even closer collaboration, particularly through the introduction of Mitacs awards on these new concepts, as well as on planetary limits and the social value of products.” |

Anne-Laure Hettinger, Head of Sustainability, R&D Department



“Hydro-Québec is proud to be an early partner in the CIRAIG International Life Cycle Chair. The support provided to the previous Chairs by Hydro-Québec and the other partners contributed to the improvement of the life cycle analysis methodology and the development of world-class expertise in the field in Québec. The work conducted by the CIRAIG enabled us to better establish and promote the environmental footprint of the electricity generated in Québec. The work of the third Chair should help better grasp the impacts of energy transition scenarios in a world of rapid change.” |

André Besner, Manager – Environment, Hydro-Québec



“As a partner in the International Life Cycle Chair for the last six years, the Michelin group has developed the foundation of its life-cycle thinking. We look forward to continuing the partnership to extend and reinforce life cycle assessment as a key tool for providing insight to our innovation strategy. The Chair is an important partner in supporting Michelin’s sustainability program.” |

Antoine Pinneau, Senior Vice President, Pre-Development, Michelin



“Nestlé has benefitted from its collaboration with CIRAIG researchers and the industrial partners. We have developed new quantitative sustainability analysis methods, particularly in life cycle inventory, circular economy and social analysis. Among the leading results is the publication of the white paper entitled Circular Economy: A Critical Review of Concepts.

As part of the next phase of our collaboration, we are very pleased to continue the development of regionalized indicators and to include the concept of planetary limits in life cycle assessments. The findings of these research projects will be implemented in the product design tools used here at Nestlé, enabling us to offer consumer products with better environmental performances.” |

Urs Schenker, Sustainability Expert, CT-Pack, Sustainability & Novel Packaging



“Optel’s vision is to build a better world through our behaviours and traceability solutions. By creating a smart and efficient supply chain, Optel seeks to increase the visibility of environmental impacts and facilitate the establishment of the circular economy. Our long-term initiatives and objectives and CIRAIG’s 15 years of internationally recognized expertise are a perfect fit. The CIRAIG researchers are the most capable of supporting us in our best life cycle practices, training our staff and assisting our teams through their advisory service, which is in tune with our reality and needs. Our participation in the Chair’s third mandate is fundamental to the fulfillment of our mission, and the synergies between the partners can only speed up the change required to create a better world.” |

Steve Gélinas, Director of Strategy and Innovation



“Solvay's second participation in the ILC Chair is based on the promising program for the new mandate which will provide clear and most useful guidance for making LCA an efficient tool to help in the decision-making process within the Group, while integrating sustainability in a LCA-based framework which is recognized as the most relevant by the industry.” |

Guy-Noël Sauvion, Manager, Eco-Efficiency Evaluations team



“As a partner for nearly 15 years, TOTAL is very pleased to renew its support for the innovative work carried out by the CIRAIG. For TOTAL, the efforts to ensure that the development strategy remains within a broader perspective that considers climate, environmental and social issues constitute an issue that the CIRAIG’s new research directions, which are firmly rooted in support for strategic decision-making, will help address.” |

Jean-Paul Cazalets, Leader HSE (Health, Safety, Environment)



“We appreciate the combination of research and advice on themes related to all aspects of sustainability assessments of products and services. We experience a growing business interest for topics related to circular economy and the life cycle aspects thereof. We are looking forward to pursue our participation in the third mandate of the Chair and its network.” |

Staf Laget, Leader, Climate, Recycling and Product Sustainability


Representatives of CIRAIG's ILC Chair and its partners

The International Reference Centre for the Life Cycle of Products, Processes and Services (CIRAIG) launched the new mandate of the International Life Cycle (ILC) Chair in presence of representatives of partners (ArcelorMittal, Hydro-Québec, LVMH, Michelin, Nestlé, Optel, Solvay, Total and Umicore), Polytechnique Montréal and ESG UQAM. (Photo credit: CIRAIG)

To learn more

Expertise profile of professor Réjean Samson
Expertise profile of professor Manuele Margni
Website of CIRAIG

Suggested Reading

NEWS |  April 18, 2012
Launch of the Polytechnique Montréal and UQAM School of management International life cycle chair - $7M in private investment  |  Read
NEWS |  May 8, 2007
Creation of an international industrial chair of $4,5 M in life cycle assessment at École Polytechnique de Montréal  |  Read