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PE International Advances Global Hotspot Analysis Approach

While hotspots analysis is proving to be a helpful and effective tool that assists in the identification of areas to be prioritized for action, there is currently no common approach to hotspots analysis.

An initiative between PE International and the UK’s Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) aims to address this issue.

PE International has released a report, Hotspots Analysis: mapping of existing methodologies, tools and guidance and initial recommendations for the development of global guidance, as part of its collaboration with WRAP on the multi-year UNEP/SETAC’s (United Nations Environmental Programme/ Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry) Life Cycle Initiative Flagship Project 3a – Hotspots Analysis. The release of this report marks the completion of Phase 1 of Flagship 3a.

PE International says no accepted guidance exists on how to translate and apply the results of hotspots analysis into meaningful product sustainability information for use by industry, governments and other stakeholders.

For example, some product sustainability initiatives only use life cycle assessment or footprinting studies to determine the hotspots associated with product portfolios, product categories or individual products. Others also include an analysis of sales and trade data to focus efforts on high volume, “big impact” product categories; or rely on technical experts’ perspectives, stakeholder expertise or on a combination of all of the above approaches. This lack of consistency is due in part to:

  • The absence of a recognized set of guiding principles and practices for hotspots analysis;
  • The lack of a globally agreed methodological framework for hotspots analysis; and
  • A lack of agreement on the appropriate use or application of product sustainability information derived from hotspots analysis.

Flagship 3a is aimed at developing and agreeing on global principles and guidance for hotspots analysis through a consensus-building process. It has four overarching objectives:

  1. To develop a common understanding of hotspots analysis approaches currently in use and the sharing of the learning and experiences derived from these analyses;
  2. The development, agreement and piloting of global principles and practices to support the uptake and application of hotspots analysis, as a means of prioritizing international action on product sustainability;
  3. To build and share the knowledge base from existing hotspots analysis world-wide to support the development of a richer and more global view of the product categories and individual products that offer the most opportunities for performance improvement by tackling the hotspots associated with them; and,
  4. The development and agreement of guidance on the consistent and appropriate use of the product sustainability information derived from hotspots analysis.

The second phase of this Flagship 3a will commence in early 2015 with a number of regional rapid-prototyping workshops to solicit feedback from key stakeholders. The aim of these workshops is to further develop the global principles and guidance; with a secondary objective of potentially investigating the options available to build and transfer knowledge, data, information and best practice from existing hotspots analysis initiatives.


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