Conceptual map
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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is:
a methodology of analysis that evaluates a set of interactions that a
product or a service has with the environment, considering its entire life
cycle that includes
points pre-production (and therefore extraction and production of
use (and therefore reuse and maintenance),
recycling and
The final disposal.
The LCA is an internationally recognized through a number of ISO
(International Organization for Standardization).
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ISO 14040:2006 defines the LCA as a management technique that
allows the environment to identify and evaluate, with reference to a
product (service, process or activity) considered at all stages of its life
1) environmental aspects
associated with the same, by
compiling an inventory that
identifies and quantifies the
flows into (consumption of
energy and materials) and
outputs (releases into the
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2) potential impacts associated with
the uses of materials, energy and
waste placed in different
environmental media (air, water,
3) opportunities for
environmental improvements
at various stages of the life
The life cycle consists of the consecutive stages of interlinked and
product, process, or activities from the acquisition of
raw materials or generation of natural resources to
final disposal (ISO 14040:2006, 3.1).
The analysis includes the entire life cycle (cradle to grave):
• extracting and processing raw materials;
• the production, transportation, and distribution;
• the use, reuse and maintenance;
• recycling and final disposal ... “
(SETAC – Society of Enviromental Toxicology and Chemistry-,
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History of the methodology
The LCA methodology has been developed since the late '70s in the United
Between 1997 and 2000, the LCA methodology has been implemented in
standards ISO 14040-14043 updated in 2006, ISO 14040 and ISO 14044.
In the Ronchi Decree is explicitly required the use of LCA in the execution
of plans for waste disposal.
It is explicitly required by EMAS II and EMAS III.
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Characteristic and typical of the LCA
•unique new way to deal with the analysis of industrial systems:
the approach focuses on those separate study of the individual elements of
the production system, is followed by an overview of the production system,
in which all the processes of transformation are considered as participating
in the function for which they were designed.
Two typical applications of LCA:
1) Comparison between multiple systems that perform the same
2) To highlight the critical phases of a system.
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What is useful to….
to carry out comparisons between different alternatives is the product,
processes or services that serve the same function:
eg. steel tubes / PVC
PET bottles / glass / tins,
transport by train / car
to identify opportunities to improve the environmental profile of the product
at various stages of its life cycle (Eco efficiency);
to make decisions in industry and in governmental and non-governmental
(eg strategic planning, priority setting, design products or processes);
marketing, communicating with the public focusing on the environmental,
eco-labels, etc..
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Environmental management: life
cycle assessment
ISO 14040
ISO 14040: framework
Nella 14040
general requirement of consistency with the
requirements met in the new standard
ISO 14044:
only one standard
ISO 14041:
definition of the objective and scope of the analysis,
compilation of an inventory of inputs and outputs of
a given system
ISO 14042:
evaluation of potential environmental impacts related to
these input and output
ISO 14043
Finally, the interpretation of results
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Regulatory standards
At European level, strategic importance adoption of LCA as a tool suitable for
basic and scientifically identification of significant environmental aspects is
clearly expressed in the interior of the Green Paper COM 2001/68/EC and
COM 2003/302/EC on Integrated Product Policy, and it is suggested, at least
indirectly, also € ™ internal European Regulations: EMAS (761/2001/EC) and
Ecolabel 1980/2000/EC.
The rest of the LCA is a fundamental support to the development of
environmental labeling schemes: environmental criteria in the definition of
reference for a given product group (Type I eco-labels: label), or as the main
instrument to achieve Environmental Statement product: DAP (type III
environmental label).
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Un esempio: Produzione di piastrelle di gres
clay, feldspar and sand
grinding, pressing, firing, polishing and distribution
Damage to health from dust generated
during the production of sand and feldspar
Reduction of the stock of non-renewable
resources (especially fossil fuels) for cooking,
for grinding and for distribution, the
emission of nitrogen oxides during
Global warming potential
Quantification with units field for the corresponding categories of impact criteria
established scientific
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objective and scope of the
Impacts evaluation
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1. Definition
of objectives
In phase 1 are defined purpose of the study,
the product in question,
its function, the boundaries of the life cycle studied.
Categories are established to consider the impact and quality of data used.
The objectives and scope of influence the system to be studied and the direction
and depth of the study.
About the study: what you want to know;
• 2 systems compared to a standard or report an (eco)?
• get information on "hot spots" of the system?
• More strategic or product design?
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2. Inventory
are collected quantitative data on the input and output (resources and
emissions) of any single process.
This book is the most laborious step.
It can be of great help to the availability of computer systems, particularly
databases containing comprehensive information on the technical
characteristics of materials and processes.
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The inventory system of gathering data and calculation procedures to
quantify the inputs and outputs relevant to a product.
It is based on the detailed description of all economic processes incoming
and outgoing.
And 'the longest phase of the LCA and expensive.
And 'governed by ISO 14044:2006, par.4.3.
Is to bring all the flows of matter and energy functional unit, which from the
start, go back through the production system and environment.
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These flows are expressed in physical units (units of mass and energy) and
- The taking and preparation of raw materials,
- Turning them into finished products, co-products,
by-products and contaminants released into the air, water and soil,
- The removal of sources of energy,
- Their use,
- The associated releases in different environmental compartments at different
stages of the life cycle of the system examined.
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• All raw materials and energy inputs;
• All emissions output
- air
- water
- soil
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Stages of the inventory
4 times for the development of the inventory:
A. Construction of flow charts,
B. Data collection,
C. Definition of boundaries
D. Calculation of data.
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LCA maintains relations of material and energy
flows between the environment and the system
studied in theory all interactions between the
system and the environment must be considered,
eg. plastic production, emissions, placing
recipients in the bodies, degradation of chemicals
in the soil, use of forests, production of odors and
radiation. The definition of these boundaries or
not the scenario changes dramatically.
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2) boundaries between the system and other
systems studied
Problem of allocation
3) The system boundaries should be clearly
specified. These boundaries indicate the processes
included in the system. Ideally, all stages of the
life cycle should be considered but, for lack of time,
data, or resources, the opposite could happen.
Other reasons may be preferred to those who
perform the LCA to set boundaries: eg. when in
comparative LCA there are processes in common.
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The concept of allocation is introduced whenever we
analyze systems that perform multiple functions, such as
joint production systems to goods,
recycling or cascade systems.
The allocation problem in all systems is to divide the
multiple functions of materials and energy consumption
and pollutant emissions from two or more goods that are
obtained simultaneously in the same process.
The ISO 14044:2006 expressly regulate this aspect in the
analysis of inventory
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Inventory ends
The inventory ends with a series of items related to raw material
consumption and pollutant emissions to air, water, soil.
Usually it's several tens of voices, however, for comparative purposes and for
research purposes on a single system, are quite difficult to interpret (you
need an expert!).
Surely no one could say what effect the system studied is more environmentally
responsible, or which of the systems is less responsible for an effect.
LCA is a tool for decision support,
which must, therefore, the results provide quite understandable. Need for
impact assessment step.
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In Step 3, evaluation, and resources are classified according to the
emissions impact categories,
we proceed to the characterization of resources and substances (we
quantify the damage of each resource and emission in the different
categories of impact),
categories of impact (we quantify the damage of each category of impact
damage in several categories, which are sets of categories of impact), and
the weights are assigned to individual categories of damage depending
on their dangerousness.
Part of the quantitative data to be used for the characterization can be
extracted from databases. The calculation of the scores may be based on
several alternative schemes, also conceptually different.
Can be assigned different weights to the possible impact categories, and
may take several quantitative models for damage assessment of the
impact categories within the same category of damage.
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Multi step method o CML
Is to classify quantitatively the effect that they cause polluting emissions on the
environment (greenhouse effect, acidification, etc..) And then come to a further
aggregation of evaluating the effects of them.
Linked with environmental problems.
ISO 14044:2006
• characterization,
• Standardisation,
• evaluation.
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Multi step method
The classification is to define the categories of impact and allocation of all raw
material consumption and pollutant emissions in the categories of
environmental impact, global, regional and local level that they cause, it is the
qualitative relationship between inventory data and impact categories.
Diminuzione delle risorse (ADP)
Effetto serra (GWP)
Diminuzione dello strato di ozono
Tossicità umana (HT)
Tossicità ambientale (ECA)
Formazione di ossidanti fotochimici
Acidificazione (AP)
Eutrofizzazione (NP).
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Multi step method o metodo CML – FASE 2
The characterization is, however, the quantification of this report.
According to ISO 14044:2006 characterization involves the conversion of
inventory results in a common unit of measurement by means of specific
characterization factors and aggregation of converted these results within the
categories of impact. The outcome of the calculation is a result of numeric
Complex studies have identified the different incidence of all greenhouse gases
(global warming potentials) of this effect refers to a substance which in case of
reference is the CO2.
• There is a temporal dimension of emissions
• There is a spatial dimension / local emissions
These numbers, however, measure the system's contribution to such effects,
but do not tell us what contribution is more important than the others.
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Multi step method o metodo CML – FASE 3
To do this you should perform the normalization phase,
The normalization is defined by ISO 14044:2006 as the "calculation of category
indicator results relative to some reference information"
At this stage the contributions of the system to each effect are normalized to
the amount of that effect, which occurs annually in a given area (Italy, Europe,
worldwide) in a given period of time (one year).
In this way you can get an idea of both the relative contribution of the system
as a contribution both to the effects is greater.
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Multi step method o metodo CML – FASE 4
The evaluation or weighting impact categories is the stage where a weight is
attributed to several effects of importance so that the effects of the system can
be compared with each other to achieve a further aggregation of data.
This implies the multiplication of the normalized effects for different weighting
factors, which are determined based on scientific principles (sustainable levels,
etc..) And socio-economic, reflecting that is, social preferences.
“eco - indicator”
which expresses the environmental performance of the system.
In the ISO has not yet been defined as a single set of weighting factors for the
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4. interpretation
The last phase is the interpretation un'LCA.
It is the specialist for feed back on how to analyze the
results of the study, and use them to inform subsequent
applications, such as the design of environmentally
friendly products or the development of policies to address.
The interpretation phase is also proposed to present the results of the LCA in
an easily understandable, comprehensive and coherent manner, in accordance
with the definition of the objective and scope.
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Increased awareness of the importance of environmental issues and finding a
way "sustainable" to produce, consume, recycle;
The Life Cycle Thinking:
responsibility (extended) producer does not end at the factory gate, ie the
acquired knowledge that the consumption and post consumption have a
significant environmental load compared to the production
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The awareness that the shift (shifting) from one technology to another or from
one option to resolve very often in a transfer of pollutants in another place:
The realization that the clichés are (?) To be not true: eg.
recycled paper is not always the most environmentally
friendly of virgin paper, or vs. biodiesel. The fossil diesel;
The need for a methodology that allows to structure such
complex information and make it understandable (few
hundreds of substances to be covered, transport, etc..)
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Quality of data and databases…
the data are confidential and not verifiable
Risk of environmental FRAUDS
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LCA methods often provide a representative image (background data), not
accurate and sometimes not true with high costs.
LCA in its current form is not economically efficient.
The high costs of implementation of the LCA, acquisition and management of
databases, are then outsourced by the company on society (taxpayers) in
sharp contrast with
the principle of "polluter pays".
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The LCA is concerned with the potential impacts of a product on the
environment rather than real ones.
But it makes little sense from the point of living environment aggregate
emissions that occur in different places and times and have no effect on the
local impacts of types (eutrophication) and then of ecosystems that have
characteristics of the background (receiving) different.
An efficient accounting of environmental burdens of a product you can play
only on a site-specific information on each site with the life cycle.
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Methodology standardization
External Relations Standardization (peer reviews),
Public databases
Simple approach
Low costs
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Need for a site-dependent with a great cooperation
between all actors in the life cycle.
The info should be certified by external auditors.
Need for financial support.
Importance of EMAS and ISO 14001.
Need for support to encourage cooperation between
suppliers-producers-consumers avoiding the creation of
ISO 9000 Concept of the relationship between supplier
extended to environmental aspects.
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It is proposed to introduce a socio-political dimension in quantitative
evaluations of their ACL in order to quantify the potential social impacts on
people caused as a result of the life cycle of a product.
More than 200 indicators related to human dignity, child labor, excessive work,
crime, etc.. using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The assessments are not easily quantifiable social unambiguously and can be
linked to the functional unit, but pertains to the work of an organization as a
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Establishes the criteria to be taken in the design phase.
The Methodology of Eco-Design are heading in the direction required to
dine at the best solution to achieve environmentally sound and
economically sustainable maps are used for the selection of materials and
their characteristics and performance indices and indirect environmental
effects associated with the use energy and materials (ISO 14001)
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Necessary to bridge the "gap" between the development of increasingly refined
models and the real possibilities of application by economic operators in the
management of their daily reality.
Development of formats and procedures that you must pay to the company
even of ISO 14025 and Type III environmental declarations of Marketing of
LCA as a tool to transform marketing tool for innovation
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