Sustainability Evaluation Scenarios for Bioproducts

A new ASTM International standard will be used to provide reference scenarios when evaluating the relative sustainability of bioproducts. ASTM’s committee on bioenergy and industry chemicals from biomass (E48) developed the new standard, which fills a current need for a guide for developing reference scenarios and conditions. 

The new standard (E3256) provides guidelines and criteria to follow when selecting reference scenarios, using science-based measurable indicators, to facilitate a transparent and replicable comparison. 

“Decision makers, researchers, manufacturers, and others often wish to determine the direction and magnitude of effects attributable to different production options,” says ASTM International member Charles Corr. “The options may involve a process, product, project or some other innovation involving bio-based materials. To measure the effects of implementing the test case, conditions under the test case scenario must be compared to a defined alternative, or reference case.”  

Corr, of CC Consulting, notes that the new standard will be useful for lifecycle assessment and sustainability practitioners, decision makers, and researchers interested in measuring impacts of processes and products that depend on biological resources. Manufacturers, government agencies, and researches seeking to understand options that could lead to improvements will also find the standard useful.  

According to Corr, the new standard relates to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals since the goals involve sets of corresponding indicators, and the measurement of progress toward goals requires a clearly defined baseline or reference scenario. 

Corr notes that a lack of clearly defined and consistent reference scenarios can lead to incomparable evaluation results. This results in confusion and can contribute to numerous policy challenges. The new standard addresses this issue.

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