Session: LCA Methods
From Product to Material Analysis - Challenges, Chances and Limits of LCA
Julia Pflieger,* Department: Life Cycle Engineering, LBP, University of Stuttgart
The life cycle characteristics of a material varies as a function of its reuse or recycling in future application within consumer products, not only the first use in a product. Providing Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data on reused and recycled materials relies upon ISO-conforming use of the supplied data within Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies of products, taking into account all relevant life cycle aspects.
LCI data providers from industry sectors with high material recycling potential are concerned that one of the main life cycle benefits of their materials, the recycling potential, is not appropriately accounted for by non-LCA experts.
One of the drivers for this concern are the national and international database activities activities which are characterised by an increasing use and application of the provided data by non-LCA experts. In addition, the data is usually offered for download without registration or specification of the intended application, and this gives no possibility for discussion or user guidance in view of the intended use of the data. To ensure the appropriate consideration of end-of-life issues for products containing materials with high recycling potential, it may be appropriate to incorporate the recycling credit within the cradle-to-gate inventory data.
It follows that an intelligent and context sensitive approach to data provision is required. The reason is that a variety of parameters, describing the recycling effects within LCA studies, are only defined in the context of the product-specific life cycle characteristic, e.g. the application-specific recovery rate of materials.
This presentation will discuss the challenges and consequences of this approach and will give an overview of the main key aspects of influence in this context:
a) the methodological approach to consider recycling effects within LCA, e.g. system boundary expansion by crediting
b) the life cycle aspects of influence on recycling, e.g. the specific recovery rate which is specified by the collection efficiency, the recycling process efficiency, the degree of separation, etc.
In addition, the discussion will be opened about an appropriate methodological approach to incorporate those aspects in a scientifically adequate and practical way.
* corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org