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Lube-Tech 1. Sustainability, a complex notion


Sustainability is a wide, complex notion that is now mentioned and used commonly, but it would deserve clarification as to how it is defined, and what it actually covers. Sustainability refers to social, economical and environmental consequences of human activity. This notion analyses how durable and equitable a given activity is likely to be when taking in consideration its potentially negative effects: • harm to the environment – pollution, toxicity to plants and animals, reduced biodiversity


• harm to people – health and wealth, living and working conditions


• depletion of resources


Such an evaluation approach is very broad, either in time by anticipating future effects on the long run, or geographically, or even socially, as not only the actors of the assessed activity will be looked at – but also all the other people that may be impacted.


Sustainability does include some political aspects, especially when it comes to thinking about equitability of human activity.


2. Sustainable lubricants Current concerns about lubrication revolve mainly around its impact on human health and environment (i.e. European Ecolabel, Vessel General Permit…). However, some other broader aspects are clearly gaining visibility: • Fossil resources depletion: use of petroleum derived materials; • Competition with food resources: use of fatty acids originating from controversial palm oil extensive growth;


• Energy saving through friction reduction, which is strongly linked to CO2


emissions – and global warming;


• Durability, i.e. extended lifetime of lubricants that reduces waste generation and downtimes.


Extending the notion of “environmentally friendly” lubricant to that of “sustainable” lubricant would therefore require examining not only the impact of the use of lubricant itself, but also the impact of its production, transport and disposal,


PUBLISHED BY LUBE: THE EUROPEAN LUBRICANTS INDUSTRY MAGAZINE


No.112 page 1


To what extent do synthetic esters contribute to better sustainability of greases?


S. Lucazeau, Product Manager Industry & Automotive, NYCO - Paris


and this should also be considered for its raw materials. Also, immediate users of lubricants may not be the only people that may be impacted. Such a thought process is used in the Life Cycle Analysis.


Life Cycle Analysis uses various impact categories1 : climate


change, stratospheric ozone depletion, human toxicity, respiratory inorganics, ionizing radiation, ground-level photochemical ozone formation, acidification (land and water), eutrophication (land and water), ecotoxicity, land use, resource depletion (minerals, fossil and renewable energy resources, water).


The relative importance of each category probably remains a judgement call. Therefore, a fair proposal for the definition of a sustainable lubricant could be “a lubricant that minimally degrades the quality of both the environment and people’s lives, whilst conserving resources on the long run, in a responsible way”.


3. Standards and legislation There are numerous standards and labeling programs, most of which being voluntary schemes or simple guidelines. They help clearly define assessment criteria and they also encourage the development and use of products in a more sustainable approach. • ISO 14000: environmental management, in particular ISO 14040 (Life Cycle Analysis) and ISO 14031 (environmental performance).


• ISO 26000: social responsibility. • ASTM E2986: sustainable manufacturing. • EN 16760: biobased products, Life Cycle Analysis. EN 16751: biobased products, sustainability criteria.


• European Commission, JRC/IES – ILCD: Life Cycle Assessment. • ISCC: sustainability certification system covering agricultural crops and derivatives.


• OECD: Green Growth strategies. • RSPO/Green Palm: certification/trading system covering sustainable palm oil.


According to Ecolabel Index2 the world.


, 463 Ecolabels are reported across LUBE MAGAZINE NO.141 OCTOBER 2017 33


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