A life cycle impact assessment procedure with resource groups as areas of protection
- ISSN: 09483349
- DOI: 10.1007/BF02994191
Goal and Background. Current Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) procedures have demonstrated certain limitations in the South African manufacturing industry context. The aim of this paper is to propose a modified LCIA procedure, which is based on the protection of resource groups. Methods. A LCIA framework is introduced that applies the characterisation procedure of available midpoint categories, with the exception of land use. Characterisation factors for land occupation and transformation is suggested for South Africa. A distance-to-target approach is used for the normalisation of midpoint categories, which focuses on the ambient quality and quantity objectives for four resource groups: Air, Water, Land and Mined Abiotic Resources. The quality and quantity objectives are determined for defined South African Life Cycle Assessment (SALCA) Regions and take into account endpoint or damage targets. Following the precautionary approach, a Resource Impact Indicator (RII) is calculated for the resource groups. Subjective weighting values for the resource groups are also proposed, based on survey results from the manufacturing industry sector and the expenditure trends of the South African national government. The subjective weighting values are used to calculate overall Environmental Performance Resource Impact Indicators (EPRIIs) when comparing life cycle systems with each other. The proposed approaches are evaluated with a known wool case study. Results and Discussion. The calculation of a RII ensures that all natural resources that are important from a South African perspective are duly considered in a LCIA. The results of a LCIA are consequently not reliant on a detailed Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) and the number of midpoint categories that converge on a single resource group. The case study establishes the importance of region-specificity, for LCIs and LCIAs. Conclusions. The proposed LCIA procedure demonstrates reasonable ease of communication of LCIA results. It further allows for the inclusion of additional midpoint categories and is adaptable for specific regions. Recommendations and Outlook. The acceptance of the LCIA procedure must be evaluated for different industry and government sectors. Also, the adequate incorporation of Environmental Performance Resource Impact Indicators (EPRIIs) into decision-making for Life Cycle Management purposes must be researched further. Specifically, the application of the procedures for supply chain management will be investigated.