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InLCA Session IIC - LCA Studies
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Life Cycle Assessment of MD 110

Presenter: Anders Andrae
(slides in pdf)

Anders Andrae

Ericsson Business Networks
Stockholm, Sweden

A new (BC10) and an old (BC8) model of the private branch exchange MD 110, produced and sold by Ericsson Enterprise Systems, in this case for the EU market, has been compared by using life cycle assessment (LCA). LCA is a technique for assessing the environmental aspects and potential impact associated with a product's whole life cycle from the "cradle to the grave". The study meets the requirements of the standards EN ISO 14 040:1997 E, EN ISO 14041:1998 E and the draft standard ISO/DIS 14042 and 14043 from the International Organisation for Standardisation. Henrik Wenzel, Instituttet for ProduktUdvikling in Denmark, has critically reviewed the study.

The modelling of the system includes manufacturing (hardware and Ericsson's organisation), use stage (electricity consumption), end-of life (recycling processes) and transports. Electronic devices are modelled in depth (16 groups of components) and data from over 40 suppliers have been collected. Ericsson's organisation (development, marketing&sales, supply, installation, service and sustaining) is modelled for use of offices and business travelling.

The following main conclusions of the project are based on results for potential contributions to the environmental impact categories acidification, global warming and eutrophication, which were chosen to be the most relevant. The results predominantly reflect energy use, whereas toxicological aspects needs separate attention (could not be reliably assessed due to lack of data and reliable methods). The technology improvements shown for BC10 compared to BC8 do only describe design improvements made by Ericsson, and does not take into account potential technology production improvements made by suppliers.

Main conclusions:

The environmental impact improvements of the new model compared to the old are approximately 10%, and the uncertainty of the results is judged to be smaller than the difference between the systems.

The use stage and the manufacturing stage give the largest impacts, both for the new and the old model.

In the manufacturing stage, the hardware production is clearly dominating. Ericsson's organisation is secondly most important and hardware transport is least important.

The end-of-life stage appears to be of low or moderate importance for the energy-related impacts (1-3% decrease of the total impacts), but may be of large importance for toxicological impacts not reliably covered in this study.

Production of integrated circuits (IC) appears to be the individually most significant issue of the hardware production (approximately 20-40%). Printed circuit boards (PCB) contribute approximately 10% of the total score for hardware production.

Service (mainly travel by car) is the largest contribution for Ericsson's organisation.

The conclusions leads to the following design guidelines:

For existing MD 110 system, focus on decreasing the electricity consumption during the use stage.

When possible, reduce the total area of silicon and the total size of capsules for ICs by substitution of standard ICs with application specific integrated circuits (ASICs).

In future product development, the largest possibilities for the hardware appears to lie on a conceptual level (system design level). It appears to be difficult to reduce environmental impact significantly only by component substitution or detail construction adjustments.

In future product development it may also be considered to include organisational development as a possibility for decreased environmental impact.

The Global Production System for High-purity Silicon: LCA with a Geographical Component

Presenter: Eric Williams

Eric Williams

United Nations University/Institute of Advanced Studies
53-67 Jingumae 5-chome, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo 150-8304, Japan
Phone: 81-3-5722-2323
FAX: 81-3-5722-2324

High-purity silicon, a key ingredient in many high-tech products such as semiconductors, solar cells, and optical fibers, is produced via a globally integrated industrial system. Production practices in the various component industries vary considerably, with some general geographical trends. Results of an LCA study of silicon that partially takes into account variations in global production practice are presented. This inclusion of geographic information could be called "geographical LCA", one purpose of which is to obtain a result that represents an average of actual industrial practice, rather than following a particular path of processes. Also, understanding the geographical variation of process implementation is important in the practical realization of improvements. This LCA study was carried as part of a larger project that addresses analyzing and implementing sustainability on the level of global industrial sectors. It can be argued that one major source of the general dearth of process data for LCA studies is a lack of institutional/societal support for sustainability at the sector level. The relationship between this sector focus on sustainability and the practice of LCA is discussed.

E-mail vs. Ordinary Mail: An Ecological Comparison

Presenter: Dr. Manfred Zurkirch

Dr. Manfred Zurkirch

Swisscom AG
Güterstrasse 5
CH-3050 Bern
Phone: +41 31 3423979
FAX: +41 31 3423917

Nowadays more and more data are being transferred via the Internet with services as the WWW, the Telnet or e-mail. Inside our company alone there are, on average, 150 electronic mails sent per employee per week. At the same time, the internal mail service experienced a strong decline in the number of documents delivered. Lead by such observations, many claim the Internet services to be an important step towards the paperless office, which would imply a lot less waste. However, one has to bear in mind that much more paper is consumed when a big part of the messages are printed and either put into folders or into wastebaskets after having scanned through them.

So far, only few investigations on the ecological effects of "immaterial" services exist. Normally, they focus on one specific scenario thus often resulting in contradictory conclusions. Here, the services e-mail and ordinary mail are being compared on the basis of a modular system. That is, the infrastructure needed to provide the services is allocated to the different activities like printing, scanning, transmitting data and so on. The impact assessment of each of these elements is then treated independently. At the end, all of the boxes are connected to a modular network, therewith closing the circle again. This approach, of course, allows the user to put together any scenario and to evaluate its environmental performance. The evaluation of the different boxes (for example, printing of a document on white paper) is performed with LCA based on two impact assessment methods, namely Ecoindicator95 (NL) and the Method of Ecoscarcity (CH).

Summarizing, the eco-evaluation of the services e-mail and ordinary mail by means of a modular LCA makes a comparison of these systems very transparent and, in addition, enables the user to highlight those phases that interest him most.

LCA in the Service Industries: Case Study of Telecommunications

Presenter: Arpad Horvath

Arpad Horvath

Assistant Professor

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
215B McLaughlin Hall
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-1712
Phone: (510) 642-7300
FAX: (510) 643-8919

This presentation will describe the development and application of methods and tools of environmental LCA for the service industries. Even though the service economy accounts for some 80% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of most industrialized countries, LCA models and case studies for service products are just appearing. Indeed, services present unique challenges for LCA: their definition and boundaries are complicated and varied, and they tend to generate less pollution at the point of production than throughout their extensive supply chain. Whatever their direct environmental discharges and use of resources, the service industries are indirectly responsible for the majority of pollution and resource use through the products and fuels they purchase. Without our understanding of the full economic, environmental, and sustainability implications of the service industries, our society cannot make informed choices and decisions that will result in better environmental quality.

A model that allows decision-makers to analyze the entire supply chain of products and processes utilized in services generation is based on economic input-output analysis approach. The author (formerly with Carnegie Mellon University) will present the use and limitations of this method (called EIO-LCA, and accessible at, and focus on a case study where this model has already been applied: the telecommunications industry. The analysis will include the material and energy inputs (nonrenewable and renewable resources), as well as the emissions and wastes (toxic discharges, hazardous waste generation, criteria pollutant emissions, greenhouse gas discharges, and ozone-depleting chemical releases) associated with the telecommunications sector.

Life-Cycle Approach to Achieve Sustainable Municipal Solid
Waste Management Strategies

Presenter: Keith Weitz
(slides in pdf)

Keith A. Weitz and Subba R. Nishtala

Research Triangle Institute
3040 Cornwallis Road
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709

Susan A. Thorneloe

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
Air Pollution Prevention and Control Division (MD-63)
Research Triangle Park, NC 27711

Local governments have the primary responsibility for the collection, treatment, and disposal of municipal solid waste. In developing sustainable strategies for solid waste management, communities seek approaches that are economically viable and beneficial to the environment and quality of life. Although communities have had access to reliable cost information related to their MSW management systems, they have lacked comparable environmental information with which to assess the environmental benefits and burdens of alternative MSW management options. Many communities, planners, and policy-makers are often faced with limited and unorganized information on which to base decisions regarding integrated MSW management strategies. A computer-based decision support tool has been developed through a partnership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Research Triangle Institute and its research partners. The tool has been designed to assist local governments in evaluating the cost and environmental performance of integrated MSW management systems. Ongoing case studies of the tool at the local level are summarized.

Life Cycle Assessment of Biocomposites and Impacts on Ecosystems

Presenter: J. Payet

J. Payet and O. Jolliet

Institute of Soil and Water Management, Laboratory for Ecosystem Management
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne
CH-1015 Lausanne EPFL
Switzerland, with support of ADEME (French EPA)

L. Lundquist, Y. Leterrier and J.-A. E. Manson

Laboratory for technology of composites and polymers, LTC-EPFL
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne
CH-1015 Lausanne EPFL
Switzerland, with support of ADEME (French EPA)

This paper analyses the use of china reed instead of glass fibers as reinforcement fibers in plastics transport pallets and identifies key environmental parameters. Transport pallets reinforced with china reed fibers prove to be ecologically advantageous, as long as they have a minimal lifetime of three years. The strong energy reduction is due to two equally important factors: a) the substitution of energy requiring glass fibers by the low energy natural fiber production b) the indirect weight reduction of polypropylene linked to the stiffness increase due to the china reeds fibers. The highest environmental impacts are caused by the polypropylene production and by transport during the use phase. This example shows the importance to optimize simultaneously environmental and technological performances, life cycle assessment being an adequate tool for this purpose. China reeds biofibers are compared to other usage of biomass: it enables a 3 to 10 times more energy efficient valorization of biomass than just burning it for heating purposes.

The example will also illustrate the sentinel approach, a new method for the assessment of life cycle impacts on ecosystems. The choice of indicator organisms is based on organisms' specific properties (resistance to chemicals, bioaccumulation) and their position within the ecosystem (position in the trophic web, fraction of biomass). This approach enables to cover a wide range of chemicals, of biodiversity; and of the diversity of ecosystems exposed to pollution.

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