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Interview with Emilia Moreno Ruiz, Chief Technical Officer of ecoinvent

Learn how ecoinvent collects data, how they do quality control measures, and why they stand out as database for environmental data from Emilia Moreno Ruiz, Chief Technical Officer of ecoinvent.

“The strength of the ecoinvent database lies in the fact that it is modular and built into individual processes. [..] The ecoinvent database adheres to the FAIR principle: findable, adaptable, interoperable, and reusable.”

Makersite’s data foundation compiles information from more than 140 sources. Our comprehensive databases cover a vast range of materials and substances, allowing clients to model products across various industries. With data on over 36,000 industrial processes, 600,000 environmental impacts, and 100,000 materials and properties in a single system, customers can quickly locate the information they need for procurement and sourcing decisions. ecoinvent, one of the key LCA databases in Makersite, is known for its high-quality environmental data. We recently spoke with Emilia Moreno Ruiz, the Chief Technical Officer at ecoinvent, about their data collection methods, quality control measures, and why ecoinvent stands out as a top-notch database for environmental data.


How and where does ecoinvent collect data?

Emilia Moreno Ruiz: There are three pillars to our data collection process. The first consists of our collaborations with organizations that collect data themselves, such as industry actors or industry associations and consultants working on behalf of industry or governmental initiatives. This pillar also includes our collaborations with several national databases that have entrusted us with hosting and publishing their data.

Secondly, we collaborate with researchers and consultants to publish or develop ad-hoc models that can be fed with data from other databases or from research. These models produce data that we incorporate into our database.

Lastly, our team is constantly working to harmonize and maintain the data. The database functions as a consistent system, so the ecoinvent team facilitates the interactions between sectors by adding activities that connect data points within sectors as needed (for example, creating treatments for generated waste streams).

We supply data providers with a methodological framework, a review scheme, and submission support for the data generated, and of course, we support them throughout the whole process of data creation.


How does ecoinvent do quality assurance?

EMR: In the project-based context, we work with external experts that guarantee the plausibility of results and ensure that the data and technologies are state-of-the-art. External reviewers play an important role in increasing the quality and trustworthiness of our data. Additionally, we work internally to ensure the data complies with our published methodology and requirements at a database and sector level. At a database level, we look at the database as a whole and audit its results, variations, and interactions to orchestrate any necessary corrections. We work in cooperation with external reviewers at that level as well.


How does ecoinvent keep its data updated?

EMR: New versions of the ecoinvent database are released annually to include new and updated data and technical improvements. These yearly releases expand the sectorial, technological, and geographical coverage of the database. The data updates correspond to ecoinvent’s central maintenance strategy while also adapting organically todevelopments and additions from data providers.

Other improvements relate to documentation, calculation features, or alignment in nomenclature. We also work on innovating and adding new system models or new impact assessment methods (methods that will calculate impacts on the environment by using our data), which oftentimes require data updates as well.


What makes ecoinvent one of the best databases of environmental data?

EMR: The strength of the ecoinvent database lies in the fact that it is modular and built into individual processes. This makes it transparent and easily adaptable— It can be integrated into or connected with other systems or databases. Thus,the ecoinvent database adheres to the FAIR principle: findable, adaptable, interoperable, and reusable.

Additionally, data traceability is becoming increasingly critical— and is often required by government authorities— so it is essential that data is traceable to empower people to make good decisions. We can provide a level of transparency in our database that allows our users to trust that our data has been thoroughly verified and audited.

ecoinvent has nurtured an impressive database ecosystem that allows many interesting businesses to flourish. The content of the database is uniquely broad, as are our partnerships, so we are proud to represent high-quality data for the good of the world.


If you want to learn more about how the ecoinvent data is used in Makersite and by our customers, head over to ecoinvent to read their interview with Fabian Hassel, Makersite’s VP of Services.

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