The development of an operational LCIA-methodology with impact categories based on the control variables in the Planetary Boundaries framework

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    This study presents a first attempt at an operational LCIA-methodology basing the definition of the impact categories on the control variables as defined in the
    Planetary Boundaries (PB) framework. The PB-framework introduced a set of
    biophysical Earth system processes and defined quantitative PBs that have to be
    respected for Earth to remain in the Holocene state. The concept is attracting a
    strong interest from in dustry as companies seek to assess and communicate the environmental performance of their products relative to the PBs. The PB
    -framework has previously been attempted included in LCA as part of normalization and weighting. The limitations of both attempts are the lack of
    spatial differentiation for spatially differentiated PBs and the requirement for
    harmonizing the control variables with indicators already used in life-cycle impact assessment (LCIA). A way to overcome these limitations is to directly use the control variables in the PB-framework as impact categories in LCIA, which is also the objective of this study. This work defines a mathematical framework for a LCIA-methodology where Characterization Factors (CFs) are included for all
    Earth system processes in the PB-framework, for all substances contributing to
    effects on the Earth system processes and expressed in the units of the control
    variables. Except for novel entities and biosphere integrity which are currently
    excluded from the LCIA-methodology because the former is lacking a planetary
    boundary metric while a full understanding of the cause-effect chain is missing for the latter. The CFs were estimated by identifying the environmental models
    needed to model the control variables of the PB-framework and adapting these to fit the LCIA-framework. This work provides a full set of CFs for all the Earth
    system processes in the PB-framework. The new LCIA-methodology provide
    additional and complementary insights which cannot be achieved with raditional
    LCIA-methodologies. The results provide information on the environmental
    impacts of the assessed products and solves previous problems with approximative links between control variables in the PB-framework and current
    LCIA impact categories. The new insights can be used for communicating the
    product’s environmental performance and to support definitions of absolute
    reduction targets relative to the PBs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSETAC Europe 26th Annual Meeting
    Publication date2016
    Article number421
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    EventSETAC Europe 26th Annual Meeting: Environmental contaminants from land to sea: continuities and interface in environmental toxicology and chemistry - La Cite Nantes Congress Center, Nantes, France
    Duration: 22 May 201626 May 2016
    Conference number: 22


    ConferenceSETAC Europe 26th Annual Meeting
    LocationLa Cite Nantes Congress Center
    Internet address

    Bibliographical note

    Ryberg M, Owsianiak M &amp; Hauschild M <br/>SETAC Europe 26th Annual Meeting, 2016, Nantes, France<br/>Conference presentation


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