Jyh-Shing Yang and Yiin-Bin Reu
Union Chemical Laboratories
The database was used for a LCI case study to calculate the environmental loading of 10 different spent containers. In order to generate indexed numbers for decision making, the inventory data was prioritized by specific grouping as well as by using AHP method. The final strategy for the recovery policy of spent containers was determined by the combination of different social (economical, legal, public administration) decision tools on the "scientific" basis of grouping LCI index.
J.B. Guinée and G. Huppes
PO Box 9518
2300 RA Leiden
Phone: +31 71 5277477
FAX: +31 71 5277434
In the new Guide and Backgrounds the key distinction made is between descriptive (retrospective) analysis and change-oriented (prospective) analysis. Change-oriented analysis is generally considered the analysis to be performed for decision-support. In the change-oriented analysis we distinguish between occasional or short-term; structural or medium-term; and strategic or long-term analysis.
Three levels of sophistication are distinguished: simplified LCA (not fully complying with ISO standards for time and money constraints); detailed LCA, (complying with ISO standards using baseline choices for all methodological issues); and extended LCA (detailed LCA with additional sensitivity analyses, partial uncertainty analyses, elaboration of new impact categories or calculations of new characterisation, etc.). For these three levels of sophistication, different sets of guidelines have been developed, as far as relevant. Furthermore, these levels have been related to a number of decision situations for which basic procedural guidelines have been developed.
In the Guide, we focus on change-oriented analysis, for structural and strategic applications. This implies that other types of LCA methods are not elaborated. These may need further attention, also to clarify the applicability and limitations of the LCA methods as are specified in the Guide. Where relevant and possible, suggestions are given when to use other types of LCA methods and when to apply other tools for environmental analysis - not yet worked out in this Guide - which might add information relevant for the decision at hand. These include substance flow analysis, dynamic analysis and market analysis.
Kenneth R. Stone
National Risk Management Research Laboratory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency X
Cincinnati OH 45268
Phone: +31 71 5277477
NRMRL's Engineering Trade-Offs (ETO) program is developing a methodological approach to account for the wide variety of trade-offs that occur whenever a decision is made, from the very intimate level of personal preference to the wider ranging level of institutional policy. This approach involves integrating economic impacts (cost and performance) with environmental impacts of a decision, including an assessment of the impacts of actually implementing the decision and the social reaction as a result of the decision. It is being designed for decision-makers, rather than analysts.
Conceptual Basis for ETO
ETO focuses on the four areas considered to be critical in making a fully informed decision:
performance, environment, economics and acceptance. These areas are considered critical because a failure in any one area ultimately defeats the goal of the change. For example, if a change of technology is implemented that has demonstrated lower costs, better performance and lower environmental effect, all those benefits can yet be negated in practice if those responsible for implementation do not understand it or resist using it. Therefore, ETO seeks to develop a methodological approach to capture the potential for success and the risk of failure in each of these areas to fully inform the decision-maker and guide the successful implementation of source reduction activities and technologies.
Economic and Environmental Trade-offs
At the minimum, each alternative has to fulfill the necessary function, be affordable to acquire, use and maintain, and be compliant with existing regulations. Environment is related to economics with a social understanding to ensure that the decision-maker will also have knowledge of the trade-offs that occur as the result of making a decision.
When a decision maker chooses to select one system over another, it is important to account for the impacts of the implementation itself, particularly if one system is in place and has to be retired. For example, a hospital may choose to replace medical equipment containing mercury with mercury-free electronic components and devices. What does it then do with the equipment being retired? What impacts flow from the way it is retired - retrofit, disposal, sell-off to other users, etc.? In some instances, these decisions can lead to significant environmental risk.
It is important to consider the potential impact of a decision in terms of its acceptance, or its rejection via human error and will. A technically correct P2 decision can be quickly defeated by these two factors. ETO recognizes that P2 decisions have to be carried out by human beings. While human beings sometimes make mistakes, it is also true that some situations are prone to promoting mistakes. Such situations can easily defeat a P2 decision. It is also true that human beings have individual will, and if the persons responsible with implementing a decision do not fully accept, there are a number of ways they can defeat it.
While ETO is not proposed as a replacement for life cycle tools and methodologies, it is being developed as a useful methodology for capturing trade-offs in decision-making with the intention of improving the environmental character of decisions without burdening the processing with expensive analytical methods. It is directed to those individuals having to make public and corporate decisions who may not possess the staff or resources for more sophisticated life cycle-based analyses. It is being developed fundamentally as a method to compare two or more products, processes or activities, as opposed to design approaches to improve an existing activity. Currently, NRMRL has developed the concept for ETO and is in the midst of developing a practical methodology.
Applied Sustainability LLC
4425 S. Mopac Exp., Building III, Suite 501
Austin, TX 78735
In BPS projects, diverse companies within a region collaborate to uncover synergies between each other's by-products and resource needs. The concept of turning waste streams into product is not new, yet has often been difficult to realize. BPS overcomes many barriers to identifying and implementing synergies through three key project elements:
BPS projects begin by educating businesses on the benefits of BPS and recruiting participants. Next, participants' material flows are catalogued in a confidential database that is analyzed for potential synergies. Simultaneously, a series of facilitated working meetings allow participants to brainstorm on potential synergies. Participants then implement the synergies that provide economic potential.
Synergies can bring the following benefits to project participants:
Involvement in BPS also provides companies with intangible benefits. Re-thinking of "waste" as potential products opens the door to new business opportunities. The Global BPS Network provides connections to companies worldwide. BPS also provides companies with an action-plan for involving all levels of an organization in implementing sustainable development.
Warren Mellor(1,2), Elizabeth Williams(1,2), Gary Stevens(1), Adisa Azapagic(2) and Roland Clift(2)
Polymer Research Centre(1) and
School of Engineering in the Environment(2)
University of Surrey
Guildford, Surrey. GU2 5XH
Phone: 00 44 (0)1483-259599
FAX: 00 44 (0)1483 259555
This paper sets out a methodology which is based on LCPD, but goes further in its consideration of an integrated chain management approach, for material selection and product design. It will enable not only single life cycles but also cascades of product use to be identified and modelled explicitly in relation to technical, economic and environmental requirements and impacts.
The methodology describes materials in terms of their utilities. A utility can be any value used to represent a mass flow, such as material property, geographical location or economic value. The use of utilities enables the usefulness of a material to be measured by comparison with predefined criteria. They also allow the properties of a material to be monitored as they pass through production, use and re-use. All operations will change material properties in a pre-defined way; these can be modelled so that the changes due to a sequence of operations and processes can be calculated. This enables the opportunities for re-use and recycling of materials to be evaluated.
Environmental burdens and economic costs are calculated in conjunction with the utility changes, making this approach useful for assessing the feasibility of an operation where the necessary performance criteria are met whilst also satisfying environmental and economic constraints. This framework is to serve as a basis on which to build a decision support tool that will help polymer product designers and manufacturers make choices among different polymers and processes. Several industrial case studies, also discussed in this paper, are being considered to test and evaluate the methodology.
Katherine L. Yuracko, Mike Morris and Terry L. Hatmaker
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
1060 Commerce Park Dr.
Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830-6480
The ORNL approach to LCA differs from other approaches by taking into consideration all the factors important to stakeholders--life cycle cost, health and safety, the environment, programmatic impacts, and other factors. Consideration of these impacts need not be extensive or excessively burdensome; it should be commensurate with the potential benefits. However, the fundamental process of considering each of the alternatives on each of the relevant attributes will ensure that all factors important to the decision have been considered, reducing the likelihood of unintended consequences.
Only by considering all impacts of decisions over the total life-cycle, can managers be sure that they are determining the wisest choice for the DOE. We have found that when the traditional approach to making decisions is used, the Department fails to realize potential cost savings, environmental benefits, and health and safety improvements. By considering all costs and benefits, regardless of which organization pays those costs or realizes those benefits, LCA reveals superior decisions for the Department. The ORNL LCA approach has been successfully applied at a number of DOE sites to help make better decisions. A specific demonstration of this approach for D&D at the DOE Hanford site will be presented.