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InLCA Session III D -Measure of Sustainable Development & Natural Resource Use
Click here to download a zipped copy of the abstracts and slide presentations for this session.
The E2 Vector: A Tool to Analyze the Unlinking Between Economic Growth and Environmental Load

Presenter: Mark Goedkoop
(slides in pdf)

M.J. Goedkoop

PRé Consultants
B.V. Plotterweg 12
3821 BB Amersfoort, The Netherlands
Phone: +31 33 4555022
FAX: +31 33 4555024

C. van Halen

Pricewaterhouse Coopers N.V.
PO Box 30715
2500 GS The Hague, The Netherlands
Phone: +31 70 3426194

H. te Riele

Storrm C.S; St. Annaplaats 25
5211 NT den Bosch, The Netherlands
Phone: +31 73-6901907

Governments seek to find a combination of economic growth and environmental protection. This combination is not an easy one as economic growth usually invokes a growth of the amount of materials and energy consumed. Thus the bottom line for all policy makers should be unlinking economic growth and environmental load.

Traditional LCA's cannot be used to assess macro economic changes of product improvements, as LCA does not take into account behavioral changes. For instance in the LCA perspective a small energy efficient car is assessed to be a favorable product, while on a macro level, this will be a perfect second or third car for a family. The net effect could be an increase of fuel consumption, as driving will become cheaper.

The E2 vector presented here looks at the environmental load per unit of value. The E2 vector displays the ratio between environmental load and value as a vector. Both the length and the slope of the vectors reveal very important characteristics of product systems if we want to compare their unlinking potentials.

A number of cases are assessed with this methodology: Car sharing, the launderette system and a distribution system for ecologically grown vegetables. Results indicate that it is unclear if car sharing contributes to unlinking, while the other two examples show a clear unlinking potential. The findings in the case studies show that the LCA methodology can be further developed to assess environmental policies on a macroscopic level.

The paper is based on a large project carried out for the Dutch ministry of economic and environmental affairs into the environmental and economic aspects of product service systems.

Determination of Weighting Factor and Its Application to the LCA of a Printed Circuit Board

Presenter: Kun M. Lee
(slides in pdf)

Kun M. Lee and Jaesung Noh

School of Environmental and Urban Engineering
Ajou University
5 Wonchundong, Suwon, Korea 442-749
Phone : 82 331 219 2405
FAX: 82 331 215 5145

A weighting factor proposed for the Korean Eco-indicator is a product of a reduction factor (RF) and a relative significance factor (fi). The former indicates internal aspect of an impact category as the degree of seriousness of the impact in a given impact category. The latter indicates external aspect as the degree of relative significance of the impact among different impact categories.

The RF of an impact category was determined as the ratio of a politically determined target reference to a normalization reference of an impact category. The fi of an impact category was determined by the Analytic Hierarchy Process method. A total of four criteria based on the precautionary principle was chosen as the criteria for the evaluation of the relative significance of each impact category. The criteria include temporal aspects, geographical aspects, the degree of reversibility, and the scientific uncertainty of an impact category.

A life cycle assessment (LCA) case study was carried out for the evaluation of the proposed weighting method. A component for a hard disk drive, Printed Circuit Board (PCB), made of epoxy resin was a product for the LCA study. System boundary included from raw material acquisition to the PCB manufacturing. The life cycle impact results of the proposed weighting method were compared with those of the existing methods. Discrepancy in the results among different weighting methods was discussed with respect to the underlying assumptions of each method.

Quantitative / Qualitative Approach Towards the Assessment of Sustainable Building

Presenter: Katja Reiche
(slides in pdf)

Dipl.-Ing. Katja Reiche, Univ. Prof. Dr.-Ing. C.-A. Graubner

Institut für Massivbau
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Alexanderstr. 5, 64283 Darmstadt, Germany
Phone: +49-6151-162144
FAX: +49-6151-165344

This paper deals with an evaluation method that is designed in order to obtain a qualitative / quantitative assessment of different building elements in terms of their sustainability. In order to prevent problem shifting from one life stage to the other or from one set of criteria to the other the assessment method considers environmental, economic, technical and aesthetic criteria.

An analysis of sustainable design has to consider the entire life cycle of a building, covering all the processes required: Extraction and processing, manufacture, transport and distribution, use, reuse and maintenance, recycling and final disposal. As the holistic assessment of sustainability can become very complex due to the number of factors that must be considered a computer aided method has been developed, that enables the analysis of material flows over the whole life cycle of a building. The assessment of inputs (energy, material) and outputs (emissions) occurring at the erection of the building and during operation (maintenance, operating energy) is carried out using LCA. In addition to this quantitative assessment of environmental impacts, additional criteria is evaluated.

Whereas economic criteria is assessed quantitative, a score system has been developed that enables a designer to classify the recyclability of materials, aesthetic criteria as well as demolition criteria on a scale from 1 to 5, taking into account various different aspects.

The paper also describes the application of this assessment method on a few examples. As the application of demountable structures is very promising for sustainable structures, especially when considering refurbishment, maintenance and demolition of a building, the examples described identify optimization possibilities of structures that can be disassembled, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages in every life stage.

With this assessment method alternative types of construction can be compared for their relative effects on the sustainability and more environmentally, economically, technically and aesthetically balanced decisions made about construction selection.


Material Flow Analysis with Life Cycle Assessment for Promoting Sustainable Industry/Community Interactions - A Practical Demonstration With Gold Mining

Presenter: Ashley Scott

Prof. Ashley Scott, Director

Centre for Integrated Environmental Protection
Griffith University
Brisbane, Queensland 4111, Australia
Phone: +61-7-3875 3661
FAX: +61-7-3875 5288

Dr. James Ness, Senior Research Fellow

Centre for Integrated Environmental Protection
Griffith University
Brisbane, Queensland 4111, Australia
Phone: +61-7-3875 5507
FAX: +61-7-3875 5288

Mr. Venkatesan Narayanaswamy, Research Associate

Centre for Integrated Environmental Protection
Griffith University
Brisbane, Queensland 4111, Australia
Phone: +61-7-3875 7202
FAX: +61-7-3875 5288

Mr. Ian Levy, General Manager Development

Gympie Gold Ltd.
Level 9 Gold Fields House
1 Alfred Street, Sydney, New South Wales 2000, Australia
Phone: +61-2-9251 277
FAX: +61-2-9251 2666

Dr. Bill Silvey, Team Leader

Environmental Protection Agency
160 Ann Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4002, Australia
Phone: +61-7-3227 6237
FAX: +61-7-3227 8341

Whilst Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is potentially a powerful tool for environmental decision making for industry, society and government, the constraints in using LCA are too often time, data availability and apparent local relevance. In economies such as Australia, where a strong commitment to the environment is coupled with an urgent need to economically diversify within sustainable communities, the traditional LCA approach has been found to be too cumbersome, and proved unattractive to many potential "customers". In particular, in relation to how it helps integrate their operation with the community. To overcome these problems, we are synthesizing a pragmatic approach that incorporates the best of the LCA methodology with straightforward Material Flow Analysis (MFA), the latter helping to highlight existing and potential inter-operational (i.e. industry and community) connections and beneficial synergies. An example will be presented of our approach which uses a gold mining operation and the local town. We found that the LCA perspective and MFA complemented each other in helping to develop clear, environmentally sound practices that are economically attractive, politically acceptable, and above all, immediately perceived as directly relevant to industry, the community and government.

The Resource Use Management Approach:Non-Traditional Tools for LCA and Sustainability

Presenter: Terri Hoagland
(slides in pdf)

Terri Hoagland

Tools for analysis of environmental information are being developed and demonstrated within the EPA National Risk Management Research Laboratory's Systems Analysis Branch (SAB). A brief description of the fifteen tools is given at the end of this abstract. For the most part, these tools address identification or measurement of pollution and environmental impacts from chemical releases at the process or facility level. However, there are among the fifteen, less traditional "resource use management approaches" to environmental analysis and decision making that have applicability to LCA and sustainability.

The first departure from the traditional focus on chemical releases is currently called the "non-chemical impact assessment tool" (NCIA). The structure of the NCIA has not yet been developed; however, its purpose will be to provide one or more methodologies for considering the impacts of non-chemical stressors on human health and the environment. LCAs have traditionally considered these impacts in terms of resource depletion and land or water used and several methods are available for at least quantifying the rate of depletion or number of acres or gallons used. This is typically a consumption vs reserves measurement and may suffice for a general LCA inventory, but for impact assessment related to sustainability, a third measurement-- need or desire for the resource or its use, is also necessary.

NCIA will go beyond the resource depletion/use categories and include, but not be limited to such topics as habitat alteration (including loss and fragmentation), heat (thermal pollution), erosion, noise and the introduction of non-indigenous species. Several other categories are being considered, including light, electrostatic, and radiowave pollution (these being of increasing importance with the proliferation of electronic products and uses).

A second tool of relevance here is GEMS, the Geographical Environmental Management System. GEMS is slated to be the central point for a facility's total environmental management program. As such, it will provide the facility with one central repository for all of its environmental and related information. It will also provide a framework within which to make SAB tools available to the user. The GEMS program will run the appropriate routine in the background and transfer the results as input for further analysis or provide direct output to the user for manual analysis. The GIS capabilities will allow a more site-specific application of SAB (and other) tools, including LCA.


Pollution Prevention Opportunity Assessment (PPOA) - methodology for providing basic information on sources of pollution within a facility; Information System for Pollution Prevention (ISP2) - waste generation and cost prediction model; Production Adjusted Measurement of P2 (PAM) - methodology for applying statistical and graphical analysis to assess the units-of-product used to adjust or normalize P2 measures; Pollution Prevention Resource Guide (P2RG) identifies other tools that can be used for P2 measurement and related environmental analysis; Pollution Prevention Progress (P2P) - computer program developed to quantify the progress achieved by implementing P2 projects; Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical Impacts (TRACI) - computerized methodology and database to evaluate the relative environmental impacts of chemical releases; Program for Assisting the Replacement of Industrial Solvents (PARIS II) - computer-based tool to substitute or design more benign industrial solvents or solvent mixtures; Chemical Process Simulation for Waste Reduction (WAR) - methodology for designing or modifying manufacturing processes to reduce their environmental signature; Non-Chemical Impact Assessment (NCIA) - tool being developed to quantify potential environmental impacts from sources that do not involve the release of chemicals into the environment; Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) - a systematic method for identifying potential environmental impacts from raw material acquisition through disposal or reuse; P2 Factors is a preliminary methodology to determine whether a P2 change is generally more or less impacting on the environment from a life cycle standpoint; Environmental Management System Evaluation Tool (EMS-Plus) - tool to begin evaluating an environmental management system (EMS), such as ISO 14000; P2Tools - software training program that integrates key pollution prevention concepts (including material, cash flow, and environmental impact analysis); Geographical Environmental Management System (GEMS) -- a GIS- based repository for all environmental and related information and analysis using SAB tools.

Life Cycle Study On Palm Oil - A Renewable Raw Material

Presenter: Sumiani Yusoff

Sumiani Yusoff and Nik Meriam Nik Sulaiman

Faculty of Engineering
Universiti Malaya
50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Over the last three decades, the oil palm industry has grown by leaps and bounds to become one of Malaysia's major economic activities. It has overtaken petroleum, timber and rubber as the chief foreign exchanger earner. The expansion of oil palm industry started in early 1960's as part of the government's diversification policy and also to raise the socio-economic status of the population.

Recent years have witnessed an increasing dominance of palm oil in the world's oil and fats trade. In 1990, of the 26.6 million metric tonnes (MMT) of oils and fats traded, 8.4 MMT were palm oil. The future demand for palm oil will continue to be prominent in the world's oils and fats trade due to increase in global population and per capita income and consumption. Oil World has forecast global demand for oils and fats will approach 120 MMT by the end of year 2010. These constitute an increase in the world per capita consumption of oils and fats from an average of 15 to 18 kg per year.

Palm oil was chosen as a case study as it is an important commodity and major export for Malaysia. Malaysian palm oil accounted for 52% of total world production and 64% of world trade in palm oil and sold to more than 90 countries worldwide. Malaysia's palm oil production has reached more than 6.8 million tonnes and it is now the leader in international oils and fats trade accounting for over 33% of international trade.

Palm oil as a renewable raw material has been noted the most important vegetable oil after soybean oil. As an industry, oil palm takes pride in being environmentally friendly. The zero waste concept that is preached and practiced together with strict adherence to environmental regulations, places the industry at an advantage. For such an internationally traded commodity, palm oil production owes some of its inherent strengths, amongst others, to good quality management, good quality assurance and good environmental management standards. Malaysia as a producer has consistently provided their customers with the confidence that it has met the specific levels of quality and environmental performance standards expected of palm oil.

The palm oil industry has an environmental policy where palm oil production must be sustainable. After the introduction into Malaysia in 1871, oil palm exploitation as a plantation crop from 1917 onwards had undergone three replanting cycles each lasting about 25 years. In sustainable development, the four elements are technological improvement in yield, economic viability of planting oil palm, social acceptance of the crop and environmental protection.

Sustainable practices to achieve high levels are implemented through management policies, operational techniques and activities. They have been crucial at integrating the socio-economic principles with the environmental protection. The significance of the change in the focus by the management on these four elements is due to the greater awareness of the preservation of the environment. Sustainable development can also be viewed from the life cycle assessment approach.

In carrying out an environment management system life cycle study of the Malaysian oil palm industry, it is necessary to trace first the aspects of its various products, by product and services commencing from production, milling, refining and manufacturing of palm oil prior to export on the environment.

There is much room for improving the environmental performance of palm oil process and production methods despite numerous local environmental regulations available for controlling pollution especially those arising from the oil extraction and refining processes. With the prevailing status of environmental performance of palm oil process and production methods, the market forces of the near future may mean that the palm oil industry could face some very real challenges as it tries to increase trade in its products. Therefore, if Malaysia is to maintain its pole position as the leading source of palm oil as well as the commodity's competitive edge over those oils and fats, the industry must intensify efforts to not only boost production and productivity but also improve environmental performance. As a basis for decision making in the practice of sustainable systems for production and consumption of palm oil based products, studies' using the life cycle systems analysis approach is needed. To date, there has never been any full life cycle assessment conducted on palm oil products.

Oil palm demonstrates the most optimal environmental traits compared to most other oil. It is perennial crop where its green canopy is maintained throughout 30 years of its economic life as compared to annual crops like soybean with greening effect lasting only for a few months in the year. Oil palm plantations are good scavengers of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The application of a life cycle study can be used to judge whether the oil palm or the palm oil products indeed conform to the 'green' requirement and demand for products worldwide.

The system in the life cycle study has been analyzed using a combination of specific and general data, hence general conclusions must be done with care. In accordance to LCA procedure the goal of study are defined for the case study. The objectives were: to obtain information on the magnitude and interrelations of the environmental load from the different life cycle steps, identify parts of the life cycle that give rise to the most significance environmental impact, and to point out the major gaps in the available data. From the improvement assessment illustration on how LCA can be used in palm oil production and to find waste to improve palm oil environmental performance.

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