Personal Metabolism (PM) coupled with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) model: Danish Case Study

Pradip Kalbar, Morten Birkved, Simon Kabins, Simon Elsborg Nygaard

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    Sustainable and informed resource consumption is the key to make everyday living sustainable for entire populations.An intelligent and strategic way of addressing the challenges related with sustainable development of the everyday living of consumers is to identify consumption-determined hotspots in terms of environmental and health burdens, as well as resource consumptions. Analyzing consumer life styles in terms of consumption patterns in order to identify hotspots is hence the focus of this study. This is achieved by taking into account the entire value chain of the commodities consumed in the context of environmental and human health burdens,as well as resource consumptions. A systematic commodity consumption, commodity disposal, and life style survey of 1281 persons living in urbanized Danish areas was conducted. The findings of the survey showed new impact dimensions in terms of Personal Metabolism (PM) patterns of residents living in urbanized areas of Denmark. Extending the PM analysis with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) provided a clear picture of the per capita environmental and human health burdens, as well as resource consumptions, and the exact origin hereof. A generic PM-LCA Model for all the 1281 persons was set-up in Gabi 6. The assessment results obtained applying the model on all 1281 personal consumption scenarios yielded the 1281 Personal Impact Profiles (PIPs). Consumption of food and energy (electricity and thermal energy) proved to be the primary impact sources of PM,followed by transport. The PIPs further revealed that behavioral factors (e.g. different diets, use of cars, household size) affect the profiles. Hence, behavioral changes are one means out of many that humanity will most likely have to rely on during the sustainable development process. The results of this study will help the Danish and other comparable populations to identify and prioritize the steps towards reducing their environmental,human health, and resource consumption burdens.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnvironment International
    Pages (from-to)168–179
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Personal Metabolism
    • Sustainable consumption
    • Resource consumption
    • Life cycle assessment
    • Sustainability assessment
    • Sustainable development

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