The Australasian EPD Programme

PROFILE: Andrew Marjoribanks – A steel industry perspective on sustainability and EPDs

Andrew Marjoribanks may be officially “retired” after a lengthy career in the steel industry, but he remains an extremely active contributor to both the Steel Industry and sustainability initiatives.

He is a board member of both the Australasian EPD Programme and the Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society (ALCAS). He is also a director of the Steel Stewardship Council Ltd, owners of the ResponsibleSteel™ certification scheme, a project initiated in Australia and now gaining momentum internationally.

We spoke to him about sustainability in the region, and the role EPDs have to play.

How did you first become involved with sustainability?

In 1989 I joined the IISI (now World Steel Association) marketing committee and sustainability was emerging as a major issue for the steel industry. Also at that time there were some very crude “models” being used and they were far from scientific, and usually portrayed steel in a bad light. Nevertheless there was also starting to emerge a strong science based approach to life cycle assessment led by pioneers like Boustead, and in the IISI marketing committee we set about establishing a science based data base (life cycle inventory) for steel. From that point on I was never far away from sustainability issues in the steel industry.

Why have you chosen to become involved with the Australasian EPD Programme?

It is a logical extension of my involvement with sustainability, life cycle inventory and life cycle assessment. EPDs are independently reviewed statements of a product’s provenance. Their integrity can be relied on, and their wider acceptance and use should be promoted as much as we are able to do.

You are currently the Secretary of the Steel Stewardship Forum and Chair of the Australian Steel Institute Sustainability Committee.  What role do you see EPDs playing in developing a “best practice” model for the steel industry in this region?

Both the Forum and the Institute support the development of EPDs and in fact Australia’s two major steel companies, BlueScope and Liberty OneSteel, already have published EPDs for their most important products. This best practice is in response to customer’s needs to understand the environmental provenance of the materials they are specifying and buying. In the case of steel this is very largely for the construction industry, where organisations such as the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) are encouraging EPDs by rewarding products which have them in their rating schemes.

What do you predict will be the future of LCA and EPDs in this region?

In the construction industry the GBCA, ISCA and other organisations are starting to give recognition to the level of environmental data integrity that comes with an EPD. For that reason I would expect that EPDs will become much more a common currency, given the level of competition between construction materials and the companies producing them and their need not to be left behind.

The other emerging area of interest is the agriculture and food sector, where again, the environmental data integrity implicit in an EPD will be of increasing appeal to customers in a business-to-business situation, and ultimately to consumers.

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