You are on page 1of 9

A life-cycle assessment (LCA, also known as life-cycle analysis, ecobalance, and cradle-tograve analysis) is a technique

to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's life from-cradle-to-grave (i.e., from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling). LCA’s can help avoid a narrow outlook on environmental concerns by:
  

Compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental releases; Evaluating the potential impacts associated with identified inputs and releases; Interpreting the results to help you make a more informed decision. (Wikipedia contributors 2012)

Cradle-to-cradle is a specific kind of cradle-to-grave assessment, where the end-of-life disposal step for the product is a recycling process. It is a method used to minimize the environmental impact of products by employing sustainable production, operation, and disposal practices and aims to incorporate social responsibility into product development. From the recycling process originate new, identical products (e.g., asphalt pavement from discarded asphalt pavement, glass bottles from collected glass bottles), or different products (e.g., glass wool insulation from collected glass bottles). Allocation of burden for products in open loop production systems presents considerable challenges for LCA. Various methods, such as the avoided burden approach have been proposed to deal with the issues involved.

Enhancing disassembly and recycling planning using life-cycle analysis
The environmental impact of these products results from interrelated decisions made at various life-cycle stages. Alting first addressed recycling and environmental problems specifically within the life cycle design (LCD) concept [also known as the life-cycle analysis (LCA), or environmentally conscious design and manufacturing (ECD&M)]. LCA is an effective means of identifying environmental burdens during each phase of the whole product life cycle, which can reduce the environmental impact, such as global warming, and ozone problems. The LCA emphasizes that products must be produced, distributed, used and disposed of or recycled without harming the environment in any phase. However, most products have previously considered the disassembly, recycling and environmental impact analysis separately. Thus, the

. products must be disassembled. Therefore. Disassembly planning and recycling strategies are two closely related tasks in recycling EOL products. These “scores” are rarely physically meaningful in an absolute sense. they have often been faulted for inaccuracy and failure to account for important site properties . because most complex products cannot be recycled directly. Indexing and scoring are the most common methods of impact analysis. and indium) can be profitably recycled because of their high production cost. but can be adopted to distinguish between the relative environmental impact of alternative methods. or safety effect upon humans and ecosystems (e. Impact analysis is a vast subject concerning the environmental health. usage and disposal of products. germanium. because recycling turns waste into useful products by reusing whole parts or subassemblies. electronic materials (gallium. transport. Disassembly of used products is known to be needed to make recycling economically and environmentally viable in reprocessing technology. disassembly planning and recycling analysis. For instance. Both LCA and ECD&M emphasize the urgency of starting to recycle EOL products.aim of this study is to develop a full modeling technique that can provide effective and efficient disassembly analysis and recycling strategies to meet the requirements of current developments in recycling. to be recycled as secondary materials (Kuo 2006). Two engineering technical problems. land use restriction and resource depletion). Indexing and scoring are evaluated by subjective judgment to derive a numerical rating. Risk is the possibility of an adverse outcome associated with an event or activity [17].g. or dismantled into separate components or materials. silicon. Impact analysis has in the past focused on risk analysis. Many industrial processes have been presented for extracting these valuable elements from components on PCBs (Roy 1991). are inevitably confronted when systematically recycling these EOL products [7]. The assessment of impacts is problematic because knowledge of complex physical and chemical phenomena is fairly poor. The most significant challenge within the LCA framework is the assessment of the impact associated with environmental releases during the manufacturing. Although these methods are very useful.

but in a combined way. environmental material. as we start from the position that SA covers more dimensions or aspects than LCA. in order to move from LCA to SA. we first note that an SA is “broader” than an LCA. The disassembly model supports the designer early in the design cycle to allow determining the probable effects of prospective design decisions before adverse environmental impacts occur. Thus. Starting from the other side: an LCA is life cycle based. Finally. . They tend to ignore what is imported from or exported to abroad. and they in general do not account for future emissions due to today's production. and more numbers. because most complex products cannot be recycled directly. This study presents a graph-based heuristic method to perform disassembly analysis for rollerskate products.(Kuo 2006) It was seen that LCA is typically restricted to environmental aspects. By examining the disassembly tree. Such an indicator includes economic and environmental information. Adding the social and economic dimension to environmental LCA will do so. the proposed disassembly model provides the environmental impact indication and design support for newly designed products. The information needed in this disassembly model can be found in the proposed database and database management systems which are the first to fully incorporate the product structure. we need to “broaden” the scope of LCA. A disassembly tree is generated based on modularity analysis (disassembly oriented) and disassembly precedence analysis. Huppes. and cost into the disassembly and recycling process. Sustainability indicators for countries in most cases reflect what is going on in that country in a certain year. Likewise. sustainability reports from companies typically focus on the company's practice as such. For instance. the broader LCA might produce results in the form of an eco-efficiency indicator. and that it does so in a simplified way. more indicators. designers can evaluate how easily a designed product can be disassembled. This does not necessarily mean that an SA will yield more results. impact on the environmental life cycle. and do not or only partially address the supply chain or the consumer and post-consumer aspects of their products(Heijungs. and can then make changes to group components with similar life cycle and similar material type into the same disassembly module. and Guinée 2010).Disassembly of used products is well understood to be needed to make recycling economically and environmentally viable in the current state of the art of reprocessing technology. However. but an SA need not be.

community.g. preparing . Practitioners have developed sophisticated software tools and extensive database systems to assist in the preparation of inventory analyses and impact assessments and to interpret the results.many have been created using proprietary and unpublished computational structures and restrict the publication of the data supporting the assessment—making a detailed review of assumptions and comparative assertions impossible. and national goals. material and energy use and waste are estimated for each life cycle process and for the system as a whole (e. knowing the potential life cycle contribution to environmental impacts provides valuable insights into the evaluation of design variants.g. From this energy and materials inventory. As a result.Thus. LCA practice has substantially changed since the early 1990s. many of these databases and software tools have been developed to describe a very wide variety of technologies and often lack the ability to model a specific technology. chemical fate and transport modeling.. In addition to protocol standardization. the use of many of these databases and software tools requires a relatively high level of training and a relatively detailed engineering knowledge of industrial process data and modeling. (Klöpffer and Heinrich 2009)):   LCA with a broader focus of indicators.. In the ISO LCA process. and in meeting corporate. As technologies move from the laboratory to wide-scale use. the contribution of the life cycle to a variety of environmental impacts is estimated (e. the central concept is life cycle assessment for sustainability. and eco system and human response. Finally. how much do the life cycle air emissions contribute to global climate change). Further. Life cycle design metrics for energy generation technologies The assessment of life cycle environmental impacts for energy generation and other technologies is described by the International Standards Organization’s (ISO’s) Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) standards (in the ISO14040 series [2]). This means that the focus is on what might be called life cycle sustainability analysis (LCSA. However. SA with a broader system boundary. how much energy is consumed and carbon dioxide is emitted by processes throughout the life cycle). in the comparison to other energy generation technologies.

Thus. A second objective is to demonstrate the use of the LCA method in comparing baseline and alternative designs. This means that user cannot consider their own priorities among life cycle environmental impacts (i. Further.e. as well as in comparison to a variety of conventional systems). Also. both the Pré Eco-Indicators and the Okala Impact Factors use a pre-determined valuation scheme. they cannot specify the relative importance among design goals such as how much more or less important climate change is when compared to smog formation). and in the comparison of emerging systems to conventional options (Cooper et al. (2) based on highly peer reviewed and publicly available LCA data that provide results suitable for both internal decision-making and external communications (with the version described here focusing on U. and in fuels and fuel production scenarios. in transportation options.technology-specific LCA models can be time consuming. . The development of a LCA-based method for rapid results is not new. making such assessments unattractive for use in rapid design cycles. the primary objective of this work is to provide a method to assist in the rapid preparation of LCAs that is (1) sensitive to a wide variety of design parameters specific to energy generation technologies (including variations in system hardware materials and configurations. and (3) allows the environmental impact weighting scheme to be specified. Example existing methods include Pré’s Eco-Indicators [3] and Arizona State University’s Okala Impact Factors [4]. in assembly energy use.. 2009). National Institute of Standards and Technology’s BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability [5]1) tools provide LCA results specifically applicable to buildings and to bioproducts. Although each of these tools is able to produce results in a rapid timeframe. all have been developed using SimaPro. a LCA software and data system with restrictions on data publication (the software must be purchased to review and repeat and the LCA results). manufacturing and operation). in operating performance and consumables.S. both intended to be applicable to a wide variety of technologies.S. the U.

 Spatial variability across location and temporal variability over a short and long time scales in the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) and Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) parameters. human characteristics). significance and reliability (Björklund 2002). local databases containing site-specific data and related data quality indicators should be realized. initial assumptions made on the allocation rules and system boundaries definition. the following type of uncertainty distinguishes. A significant source of uncertainty is the use of secondary input data.  Parameter uncertainty. system boundaries. mainly related to methodological choices. due to imprecise. 2005). such as allocation methods. In detail. 2005. often due to the adoption of linear models to describe the relationships among environmental phenomena and of aggregate data regarding spatial and temporal features. Beccali et al. This requires an effort by local firms. because the results of a LCA study can be affected by different sources of uncertainty (Ardente et al. incomplete.g.  Models uncertainty. data collection methods. indicators of data quality are needed to express their representativeness. 2010). outdated. that should be willing to furnish primary data related to . and quality of the available data (Sugiyama et al. In order to reduce the uncertainty due to secondary input data. variation in comparable technical processes) and between objects of the assessment in LCIA (e. Essentially.g. or missing values of data needed in the inventory analysis or in the impact analysis. cut-off rules.  Uncertainty due to unavoidable methodological choices in LCA. uncertainty derives from missing knowledge on the exact value of a quantity (Björklund 2002).  Variability between sources in LCI (e. Thus. functional unit.Sensitivity analysis to quantify uncertainty in Life Cycle Assessment LCA supported decisions may be misleading.

and by LCA experts. by policy makers. the system boundaries. including closed-loop supply chain management. the allocation phase. the scientific community needs to define harmonized and standardized rules related to the modelling of a product system. and clarified research topics on life cycle management. (Walther et al. They identified the importance of an integration of all the life cycle phases from the product development phase to the end-of-life phase.their productive processes. 2010) analyzed the current situation under the WEEE directive and discussed the potential of reuse and needs for the design of a regional . the impact assessment methods. the quality requirements for data used in the studies. and Halubek) surveyed state-of-the-art LCE strategies. to correctly support the LCA practitioners to reducing uncertainty due to other subjective choices and to perform LCA studies in accord to specific methodological choices and conventions. For example. Walther et al. Furthermore. Longo. Bergmann. (Herrmann. following a specific data format. Jeswiet (Jeswiet 2001) advocates that LCE comprises all research areas where the environmental concerns pertain to design engineering and production engineering. beginning from the results of experiences and projects already made. that should stimulate the local producers to carry out LCA studies of their products. that should assess the energy and environmental performances of local products and implement these in specific databases. Herrmann et al. and Mistretta 2011) Models in LCA Research trends in life cycle development Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) also sometimes called as Life Cycle Engineering (LCE) provides engineering methodologies and tools for life cycle development. and all other elements that can be source of uncertainty (Cellura.

E. and Sarah Boman. “Life Cycle Assessment and Sustainability Analysis of Products. Millet. Materials and Technologies. 355–359. Beccali. 2008.” Journal of Power Sources 186 (1) (January 1): 138–157. Jack. Halubek. Seminar on Life Cycle Engineering. Gueler.rcim. 2006. Gueler. 2001. Toward a Scientific Framework for Sustainability Life Cycle Analysis.” In Proc. Reinout. “Our Plans and Expectations for the 14th Volume 2009 of Int J Life Cycle Assess. Pigosso. 2009.010. A. Seung-Jin Lee. Energy and Environmental Balances. They mainly focused on the end-oflife strategy to close the material loop and design methods for realizing the end-of-life strategy (Zwolinski and Brissaud 2008). Joyce. and Almut Heinrich. Björklund.006. “Life Cycle Assessment of Italian Citrus-based Products. “Life Cycle Engineering – State of the Art and Research Perspectives.028. Kuo.2010. L. “Life Cycle Design Metrics for Energy Generation Technologies: Method.renene.1016/j.1016/j.” International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 7 (2): 64–72. 2011.2005.. and El Korchi 2010). 2009.1016/j. 9–16.” Journal of Environmental Management 91 (7) (July): 1415–1428. Conf. Bergmann. Many researchers identified the importance of strategies required to integrate product design and life cycle processes in life cycle engineering (Ometto. doi:10. and Jeroen B.jpowsour.2011. of 15th CIPR Int. and D. John Elter.02. 2002. doi:10.1007/s11367-008-0051-7. Heijungs.1016/j.1016/j.polymdegradstab.014. “A Proposal for a Framework for Life Cycle Engineering.09.11. doi:10. doi:10. Maurizio. Marco. and P.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 14 (1): 1–7.082. Klöpffer.07.11. “What Is Life Cycle Engineering?” In Int. Sensitivity Analysis and Improvement Scenarios. on Life Cycle Engineering. A. Ardente. Gjalt Huppes. “Survey of Approaches to Improve Reliability in LCA. and Marina Mistretta.. Maurizio Cellura.” Renewable Energy 30 (2) (February): 109–130. doi:10.network.1016/j.rser. C. “Enhancing Disassembly and Recycling Planning Using Life-cycle Analysis. “Life Cycle Assessment of a Solar Thermal Collector: Sensitivity Analysis.2009. Ometto. Fulvio. A.067. and Marina Mistretta.” Jeswiet.” Polymer Degradation and Stability 95 (3) (March): 422–428. Maurizio Cellura. Guinée. Jeff Boussu. 2005. and Pigosso 2008) and (Tchertchian. Maria Iudicello. and Case Study. This also indicates the importance of planning life cycle flow in life cycle development. Herrmann.” Robotics and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing 22 (5–6) (October): 420–428.2008. doi:10.2004. Walter. .jenvman. Giorgio Beccali. Sonia Longo.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 15 (9) (December): 4697–4705. “Sensitivity Analysis to Quantify Uncertainty in Life Cycle Assessment: The Case Study of an Italian Tile. doi:10. and Valerio Lo Brano. 2010.05. Cooper. Cellura. Tsai C. Data. 2010.

Hirao. and C. Y. Sugiyama.wikipedia. Spengler. on Life Cycle Engineering. Walther. M. D. Luger.org/w/index. 2010. http://en. ..” Wikipedia.” In Proc. T. 2010. Fukushima. “A Method Helping to Define Eco-innovative Systems (Product Architecture + Reverse Supply Chain Structure + Use Cycles Scenario). Center for the Exploitation of Science and Technology (CEST). T. and D. Hungerbühler. and K. Steinborn. Technical Report. Millet. Brissaud. Conf. El Korchi. 2012. Wikimedia Foundation. H. “Using Standard Statistics to Consider Uncertainty in Industry-based Life Cycle Inventory Databases. 2008. R. 1991. Herrmann.php?title=Lifecycle_assessment&oldid=499570075... Inc. End-of-life Electronic Equipment Waste. “Life-cycle Assessment. S. Hellweg.” International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 10 (6): 399–405. 284–289.. and A. G. Wikipedia contributors. the Free Encyclopedia. Zwolinski. Tchertchian. “Remanufacturing Strategies to Support Product Design and Redesign. 2005.Roy.” Journal of Engineering Design 19 (4): 321–335. “Implementation of the WEEEdirective – Economic Effects and Improvement Potentials for Reuse and Recycling in Germany. J.” International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology 47: 5–8. P. N. of 17th CIRP Int.