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Biowaste industry needs cradle-to-grave research

Academics and industry researchers should be brought together to conduct thorough analyses of proposed technologies for transforming biowaste into fuel, a House of Lords committee has heard.

The comments were made by Richard Murphy, professor of life-cycle assessment at the Centre for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey during a hearing in the Lords Science and Technology Committee inquiry Waste Opportunities: Stimulating a bioeconomy. “I would strongly recommend that we need to take some more broad and consequential life-cycle views,” he said at the hearing on 3 December.

Murphy explained that a life-cycle assessment would include analyses of potential policies and decisions made about using biowaste as fuel. It would consider the impact of the expansion or reduction of certain industrial processes in biowaste and would study the environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product or service, from, say, production to disposal or recycling. There are several international standards for different methods of life-cycle assessment.

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