Helene Sterzik

PhD in Life Cycle Management

I am currently completing a PhD at Massey University in the area of Environmental Life Cycle Management (LCM). I completed my undergraduate degree in ‘Industrial Management and Engineering’ at The University of Chemnitz in Germany in 2009, and my Master of Engineering Management degree at The University of Auckland in 2010. My master’s thesis – with a focus on business sustainability and life cycle assessment – investigated the implementation of a product stewardship scheme at carpet and insulation manufacturing company.

After working with manufacturing companies during my undergraduate and master’s degrees, I wanted to shift the focus of my PhD to primary industry sectors as they are particularly important to the NZ economy. My broad interests in business sustainability, supply chain management and technology transfer form the basis of my outlook.

My PhD project looks to find out what the barriers and enablers for companies as well as industry sectors are when it comes to implementation of environmental initiatives. I have developed a visual framework that allows industry sectors to see what their specific barriers and enablers for LCM implementation are. That allows them to easily get an overview and based on that understanding they can come up with targets to improve.

My approach, to focus on a whole industry sector as opposed to an individual company is novel and particularly useful in primary industry sectors. Individual companies often don’t have the resources to focus on sustainability projects, unless the owner or manager is personally convinced that that is an important aspect of the business. The sector based approach, however, allows them to share knowledge and collaborate, and thereby save human, technical and financial resources.

My project combines theoretical and practical elements, as I am testing my ideas in the kiwifruit industry, which is a very proactive industry in New Zealand. I have carried out a survey and interviews with companies along the supply chain.

I am also on the Committee of the Life Cycle Association of New Zealand (LCANZ) which is a membership organisation helping companies on their sustainability journey, focusing on Life Cycle Management and Life Cycle Assessment. It is great to see that there are many passionate companies from very different industry sectors in New Zealand that started their sustainability journey already. That clearly shows the relevance of my PhD project.

Helene Sterzik

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