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Life Cycle Assessment

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Key Points: Summary of important points made by the speaker, observations on the field trip. (This is an expandable space.)

* Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an international system of procedures for gathering and analysing the inputs and outputs of energy and resources, in relation to environmental impact related to the performance and service of the product through its life cycle.

* LCA acts in accordance with ISO 14040

* LCA is comparative

* Introductory example is given on packaging material, where comparison is based on advantages and disadvantages on polystyrene and popcorn packaging material in terms of environmental impact.

* Polystyrene is extracted from fossil oil which is non renewable and non biodegradable

* Popcorn is completely biodegradable as it is obtained from renewable resources

Steps were taken to determine which material is better and is presented by the renewable packing material system boundary scheme both for popcorn and polystyrene.

Emission and extraction inventory has shown that popcorn is better for CO2, energy, oil, while polystyrene is better for water,occupation,N2O,particulates,Selenium,Arsenic ion, Barium and Nitrates. The reason for the latest results is the use of fertilizers in agriculture which burdens environment with nitrogen.

On the other hand, the impact of Popcorn compared to polystyrene per kg of material in aspect of Global Warming, is significantly lower than the impact of polystyrene, where emission exceeds 1.7kg of CO2 per kg of material. However, polystyrene have no NOx emission evidence, while the emission of nitrous oxides from popcorn is two times greater than that of carbon dioxide.

In the Eco- Footprint aspect, priority is given to polystyrene again as popcorn production requires more land use. From the Ecopoints aspect, 1 kg popcorn appears to be 3 times better than polystyrene. However, polystyrene have a much higher density than popcorn, approximately 4.6 times.

To conclude, polystyrene is 2-5 times better than popcorn.

Sometimes industrial products may be more biodegradable than natural products, which put in a slogan:

"Natural"is different from environmental friendly"

This demonstrates that functional units of services and materials play vital function in comparing products, while measuring the impacts depends on perspective.

The old LCA issues are:

1. Hand towels or hand dryers

2. Disposable or reusable nappies

3. Plastic or paper shopping bags

4. Incandescent or compact-fluorescent light bulbs

The speaker explained what the Life Cycle is on the algorithm of product stewardship. This included :

* Raw Material acquisition

* Material processing

* Manufacture and assembling

* Use and service

* Retirement and recovery

* Treatment and disposal

This process also has involved:

* Opened and/or closed loop recycle

* Remanufacture

* Reuse

The main steps in System Boundary are materials, construction, use and end of life.

However, boundaries may be misrepresented. Examples are given on Mc Donald's and misinterpretation of "green" and "eco-friendly" car instead of "fuel-efficient".

LCA Methodology consists of three main steps such as:

* Goal, scope and definition-the goal states the proposed application or purpose of the study, the audience for which the results are proposed, the product of its function that will be analysed and definition of scope with emphasis given on the reference unit, system boundaries and quality data.

* Inventory analysis- dealing with the collection, validation and analysis of data which measures the suitable inputs and outputs of a product system. These results include inventory table and list of emissions and raw materials and energy inputs.

* Impact assessment-identification of connections between the product's life cycle and assessing environmental impact related to it.

* Interpretation- methodical evaluation of the outcome of the life cycle inventory analysis and impact assessment associated with the scope and goal. It contains conclusions and recommendations how the environmental profile of the product or system could be improved.

It is explained by the case study on beverage packaging.

First step is definition of the question.

Scope is developed through:

* Establishment of functional units

* System boundary

* Identifying indicators

* Determination of data requirements (guess, estimated, validated, measured)

Functional unit represent a "quantification of function", which mean that comparison between thing we need to substitute is necessary, so therefore quantification and definition of the system functions are required.

Functional properties are divided into three categories:

* Obligatory properties which defines functional unit

* Positioning properties- they giving a value and position of the product or service on the market

* Market irrelevant properties- significant for modelling the product system

Some production systems may have multiple functions such as secondary products, (jam jar used as a glass)

An Example is given on shoes. Two scenarios are assumed with a pair of high quality shoes and low quality city shoes. Comparison has shown that one pair of shoes with a lifetime of two years is equal to four pairs of shoes with a lifetime of six months.

Another example which utilizes LCA methodology is a case study performed by Centre



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