What is it about?

With a rapid expansion in global population and concurrent advances in manufacturing capacity across industries, we have now entered a new geological period known as The Anthropocene. This is a time period characterised by human activities that have had a major impact on our environment, such as climate change, which is now a source of global concern. The current chapter addresses this issue and emphasises sustainable development through the concept of “life cycle assessment” (LCA), a cradle-to-grave approach that helps optimise process design, from production to disposal, and identify steps to minimise its environmental impact. LCA, thus, serves as a holistic tool for end-to-end monitoring of manufacturing processes. The article also highlights the concept of a “circular economy” that focusses on reuse, recycling, and repurposing to ensure sustainable use of resources in an economically beneficial manner.

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Why is it important?

While population growth is exponential, the growth in food production is linear. As a result, the population quickly outgrows the available resources. Moreover, massive wastage of food, mismanagement of solid plastic disposal, domestic and radioactive waste, and over-exploitation of energy sources threaten the availability of resources further and contribute to the degradation of the environment. This chapter highlights models and theories that can help us assess and quantify the environmental impacts of human activities at a more granular level, with a clearer view of the bigger picture in our minds. KEY TAKEAWAY: Adopting a multi-pronged approach is the key to enabling sustainable production, thoughtful consumption, and cleaner disposal within the boundaries of the Earth’s capacity to sustain and provide for future generations. This research relates to the following Sustainable Development Goals: • SDG 13: Climate Action • SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities • SDG 15: Life on Land • SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Chapter 1. Theories and Tools for the Assessment of Environmental Impacts of Human Activities, January 2021, Royal Society of Chemistry,
DOI: 10.1039/9781788016209-00001.
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