What is (was) SPOLD

SPOLD was an association of industries (among them Ciba , Danfoss, Dow Corning, Electricite de France, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever) interested in accelerating the development of life-cycle assessment (LCA) as an accepted management tool for the necessary restructuring of company policies towards sustainable development.

After its start in 1992, SPOLD mobilised considerable financial resources to accelerate the development of sound LCA methodology and to make LCA an accepted management tool. Its activities resulted in a number of publications, starting with the LCA sourcebook that presented basic information on LCA techniques, practitioners, and data sources. Monographs on impact assessment in the use of LCA and LCA application in various fields followed. In 1995, SPOLD launched the project “Winning Acceptance”, to create a constructive dialogue and build consensus between the industry, governments, environmentalists, professional groups, and academic institutions resulting in a synthesis report on the social value of LCA.

Finally, SPOLD addressed the widespread need of the LCA community for reliable inventory data involving commodities and other frequently used goods and services. To facilitate LCI data exchange and the choice of relevant data sets, it published the Directory of life-cycle inventory data sources (a comprehensive survey of potentially useful basic data) and developed the SPOLD format, which has meanwhile found wide acceptance.

As the companies forming SPOLD had hoped, these initiatives led to a variety of other activities. Business-sponsored stakeholder dialogues became much more common. Some of the member companies of SPOLD founded and remain very active in European Partners for the Environment, which employs dialogue to work a wide range of issues. Another issue for SPOLD, the integration of LCA into a comprehensive “environmental toolbox” (together with Material Flow Analysis, Environmental Risk Assessment etc.) was successfully adopted by other organisations (LCANET and later CHAINET). The challenges of using LCA in small and medium enterprises are closely linked to those of gaining eco-efficiency improvements. The task of finding ways of stimulating and helping companies in these important areas was beyond the resources of SPOLD. Again, many of the member companies of SPOLD are involved in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, which is working with the European Partners for the Environment to find ways of building institutional capability that can help small and medium companies.

In its last years, SPOLD concentrated on maintaining and developing the SPOLD format for LCI data and the SPOLD Database Network. In this work, SPOLD co-operated with a number of other organisations, including SETAC Europe’s working group on data availability and data quality and the ISO TC 207/SC5 task group on data formats, resulting in the ISO 14048 technical specification. In 2002, the SETAC/UNEP Life Cycle Initiative was launched, continuing the database activities initiated by SPOLD. At this time, the activities of SPOLD as an association was terminated. SPOLD terminated its activities by the end of the year 2001.

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