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2023 | Buch

Progress in Life Cycle Assessment 2021

herausgegeben von: Franziska Hesser, Iris Kral, Gudrun Obersteiner, Stefan Hörtenhuber, Martin Kühmaier, Vanessa Zeller, Liselotte Schebek

Verlag: Springer International Publishing

Buchreihe : Sustainable Production, Life Cycle Engineering and Management


Über dieses Buch

This book covers the latest developments in life cycle assessment (LCA) both in terms of methodology and its application in various research areas. It includes methodological questions as well as case studies of strategies in the context of circular economy and new emerging technologies, design of conceptual frameworks, especially related to social LCA, and the use of novel modeling approaches with a focus on energy supply and land use. With research articles from leading German and Austrian research institutes, the book is a valuable source for professionals working in the field of sustainability assessment, researchers interested in the current state of LCA research, and advanced university students in various scientific and technical fields.

6 chapters are available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License via


Chapter 1. Resources in a Circular Economy with a Focus on Land Use
This preface introduces the setting of the 16th Ökobilanzwerkstatt, a forum for early-career life cycle assessment (LCA) researchers. Under the motto “resources in a circular economy with a focus on land use,” presentations of ongoing research were given from September 22nd to 24th 2021. Highlights compiled in this book cover case studies for circular economy strategies and emerging technologies in the field of bioeconomy, the introduction of conceptual frameworks especially related to social LCA, and application of new modeling approaches with a focus on energy provision and land use. The compilation of topics, scientific contributions, and practical contexts mirrors the interdisciplinarity of LCA research and provides a snapshot of the breadth, such as depth of progress in LCA theory and application.
Franziska Hesser, Theresa Krexner

Open Access

Chapter 2. The Climate Impact of the Usage of Headphones and Headsets
Based on disassembly studies, a life cycle assessment of the climate impact of the wireless over-ear headphone model Jabra Evolve2 85 (without charging station) is conducted regarding the life cycle phases of manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use and disposal. The total weight of all components is 280.7 g. The materials can be categorized into polymers (61.7%), metals (20.9%), circuit boards (4.8%), Li-ion battery (4.6%), foam (3.5%), cables (3.0%) and unidentifiable polymers (1.7%). The functional unit is defined as the wireless audio transmission through a stereo headphone over its lifetime. The lifecycle assessment results in a global warming potential of 12.17 kg CO2-Eq with a contribution of the manufacturing phase of 81.2%, based on an assumed lifetime of 2,600 using hours. In the context of a sensitivity analysis, a repair scenario of a battery replacement of the over-ear headset is modelled. Assuming a doubled lifetime, the global warming potential per hour is reduced from 4.7 g CO2-Eq/h to 2.4 g CO2-Eq/h.
Tayla Herrmann, Anna Zimmerer, Claus Lang-Koetz, Jörg Woidasky

Open Access

Chapter 3. Implementing Ecodesign During Product Development: An Ex-Ante Life Cycle Assessment of Wood-Plastic Composites
About 80% of environmental performance is determined during product development. This study assesses environmental impacts of wood-plastic composite (WPC) boards still in development, to identify impact hot spots and improvement potentials. A seven-step approach to ecodesign implementation was used. It identifies environmental impacts and derives improvement strategies. A life cycle assessment (LCA) according to ISO 14040 was conducted to quantify potential environmental impacts. The WPC boards are made of PVC and wood flour. Impacts mostly result from PVC and electricity consumption for production. Thus, this study proposes replacing PVC with polylactic acid (PLA). Further improvement strategies are increasing material efficiency, energy efficiency, renewable electricity use and secondary plastic input. Increased end of life recycling reduces environmental impacts, compared to incineration only. These changes reduce the initial climate change results of 145 kg CO2 eq by 55%. Thus, early consideration of environmental aspects supports sustainable product development.
Nadine Brunnhuber, Andreas Windsperger, Enrique Alejandro Perdomo Echenique, Franziska Hesser
Chapter 4. Background Data Modification in Prospective Life Cycle Assessment and Its Effects on Climate Change and Land Use in the Impact Assessment of Artificial Photosynthesis
Emerging technologies such as artificial photosynthesis (AP) have the potential to mitigate, avoid or even utilize and remove carbon dioxide by producing chemicals or fuels with sunlight. However, technologies with a very low technology readiness level require a prospective Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach to address its uncertainties. Recent developments in LCA software allow for modification of activities across the entire background database and adaptation of results from integrated assessment models. We apply these approaches to a simplified LCA of AP and its fossil-fuel-based-reference product systems. Under the assumptions made, we observe that the application of different scenario approaches to prospective LCA has a major influence on the impact assessment results of the environmental impact categories climate change and land use. The improvement of the emerging technology compared to the reference technology in the climate change impact category may be underestimated by up to 65% if the background database is not adjusted by results from the integrated assessment model. Furthermore, the trade-off between climate change and land use impacts may decrease. For prospective LCA of emerging technologies such as AP, we recommend the inclusion of integrated assessment model results in the LCA background data.
Lukas Lazar, Andreas Patyk

Open Access

Chapter 5. Understanding Soil Organic Carbon Dynamics of Short Rotation Plantations After Land Use Change—From Establishment to Recultivation
The increase in soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks has the potential to contribute to climate mitigation strategies by reducing atmospheric CO2. Short rotation plantations (SRP) provide bio-based resources and can possibly accumulate SOC. Estimating the potential SOC stocks of short rotation plantations can help decision-makers to implement strategies that reduce SOC loss and thus contribute to climate change mitigation. The dynamic changes in SOC were estimated for a case study using the RothC carbon turnover model. The results indicate that SOC stocks increased from 37.8 to 48.52 t C/ha within 20 years of the plantation’s lifetime. Thus, an annual average increase of 0.535 t C/ha year is expected. Given the importance of implementing strategies that support the potential climate mitigation benefits of SRP, a sensitivity analysis was employed to identify the relevant factors that affected SOC prediction. For instance, the influence of soil condition heterogeneity, such as clay content, can vary the estimations of SOC accumulated. This highlights the relevance of obtaining primary data at different locations within the plantation’s areas: to obtain a variety of SOC stock estimations that give a better representation of SOC accumulation. Such analysis help to propose suggestions that mitigate the climate effect of short rotation plantations.
Enrique Alejandro Perdomo Echenique, Franziska Hesser

Open Access

Chapter 6. Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction from Biogas Supply Chains in Germany in Context of a Newly Implemented Sustainability Certification
Life cycle assessments (LCA) approaches, analysing potential impacts associated with the production and use of biomass for energy and material purposes, have become increasingly important in recent years. An internal project at the Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum- DBFZ is investigating, which priority areas have been addressed at the institute with LCA. The preliminary results of the study show mostly practice-linked applications with a focus on the assessment of fuels, their production and technical feasibility. In this publication, we present one of the studies analysed, in which a simplified LCA approach defined in the renewable energy directive (RED II), was applied. Based on primary data from 10 biogas and biomethane supply chains in Germany, the applicability of the RED II greenhouse gas (GHG) emission calculation approach was analysed. Most of the biogas plants assessed were found to be compliant with the required minimum GHG emissions reduction. Storage of digestate, N-fertilization and the use of fossil diesel were identified as the main factors, influencing the GHG intensity of the respective value chains. Additionally, individual calculation requires a high effort for data collection. The availability of tools and default values could therefore support market actors with an efficient implementation of the RED II.
Nora Lange, David Moosmann, Stefan Majer, Kathleen Meisel, Katja Oehmichen, Stefan Rauh, Daniela Thrän

Open Access

Chapter 7. Proposing a Multi-level Assessment Framework for Social LCA and Its Contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals
In the context of sustainable product development, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods are used to gain knowledge about environmental hotspots and derive options for improvement. In light of international efforts to promote sustainable development, Social LCA (SLCA) is an emerging method to assess potential socio-economic impacts of products and services. Even when available data is limited in the early stages of materials, process, and product development, the implementation of SLCA benefits target-oriented research and development to support sustainable development. This article introduces a multi-level SCLA framework for accompanying innovation processes. The multi-level framework starts by prioritizing social aspects and proceeds as more and more data becomes available with generic and primary assessments and sets the results in context to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The application of the multi-level SLCA is showcased via a bio-based value chain. The study aims to identify options for social risk reduction and consequently provide recommendations for decision-makers. The results show that options to increase social sustainability can be realized by reducing chemical and fertilizer use or fostering sustainability reporting. By mapping the SLCA results to the SDGs, it could be found that the bio-based value chain at hand mostly contributes to the SDG no. 8.
Daniela Groiß-Fürtner, Claudia Mair-Bauernfeind, Franziska Hesser

Open Access

Chapter 8. Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment for Sustainable Bioeconomy, Societal-Ecological Transformation and Beyond
Decoupling the fulfillment of societal needs from an ever-increasing production of goods together with decoupling this sufficient production from negative environmental, social and economic impacts, is and will be the major challenge of our economic systems to avoid an even deeper socio-ecological crisis. The ascending bioeconomy practices have to be assessed with regard to their potential to provide a good life for all within planetary boundaries Addressing this, life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) is necessary to integrate social, environmental and economic sustainability assessments. However, LCSAs are still in their infancy and a series of practical problems can be traced back to a lack of sound sustainability concepts and applied political economy/ecology. We reflect on social, ecological and economic sustainability, our societal relations to nature and a necessary societal-ecological transformation in order to structure a systemic framework for holistic and integrated LCSA (HILCSA). This framework allows an implementation in openLCA, conducting the inventory and impact assessment with harmonized databases and more coherent results compared to previous approaches. For further development we identify questions of political economy/ecology as significant. The idea of a bioeconomy as well as systemic assessments is a question of the perception of ends and means of a societal transformation.
Walther Zeug, Alberto Bezama, Daniela Thrän
Progress in Life Cycle Assessment 2021
herausgegeben von
Franziska Hesser
Iris Kral
Gudrun Obersteiner
Stefan Hörtenhuber
Martin Kühmaier
Vanessa Zeller
Liselotte Schebek
Electronic ISBN
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