Category: Product life cycle

Argonne partners with Chilean company SQM to better understand lithium life cycle

Read the full story from Argonne National Laboratory.

A groundbreaking collaboration with one of the world’s largest producers of lithium will yield critical insights into the lithium production process and how it relates to environmental sustainability.

Balfour Beatty develops innovative carbon calculation tool

Read the full story at BIM Today.

Balfour Beatty, Innovate UK, Leeds Beckett University, Hertfordshire University and White Frog Publishing has created a carbon calculation tool for the construction and infrastructure industry

Currently in its beta testing phase, the AutoBIM Carbon Calculator automatically links BIM data to embodied carbon data from the Inventory of Carbon and Energy (ICE) database.

In addition, the carbon calculation tool also allows users to input information from environmental product declarations sheets; verified and registered documents that provide transparent and comparable data about the environmental impact throughout the lifecycle of a product or material.

The platform will support teams during the design phase of a project to compare products and materials, provide alternative solutions and ultimately help those involved make informed, low carbon decisions.

Researchers Develop Regional Lifecycle Assessment Tool for Electricity Use

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

EPA, in collaboration with the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), developed a new tool to address the need for current, regionally specific, and consumer-oriented data for life cycle assessment of electricity. The new ElectricityLCI tool creates electricity life cycle models from the best available public data on generation, emissions, and resources used from electricity production, electricity distribution, and supply chain requirements such as extraction and production.

Carbon Footprint Assessment of Construction Waste Packaging Using the Package-to-Product Indicator

Pešta J, Šerešová M, Kočí V. (2020). “Carbon Footprint Assessment of Construction Waste Packaging Using the Package-to-Product Indicator.” Sustainability 12(23), 10094.

Abstract: The environmental impacts of buildings are based on the construction products, which together with their packaging can be assessed as one product system. To reduce the environmental impacts of buildings, the products and their packaging need to be optimised and analysed using environmental assessment. The purpose of this study is to assess the packaging related to the product according to the Life Cycle Assessment method. The environmental assessment was performed using the Product Environmental Footprint methodology, version 3.0. To compare the primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging, the results of the climate change indicator were used as a base to calculate the Package-to-Product (PtP) indicator. Among the considered scenarios to handle the waste packaging (landfilling scenario, material recovery scenario, energy recovery scenario, and the mixed scenario), the material recovery scenario is the most preferable and, for most of the packaging materials, the scenario with the lowest impact. Following the PtP result, the secondary packaging in the roof tile system has a significant share of the impact of the whole system (16% for the energy recovery scenario). Moreover, the results confirm the PtP indicator as the appropriate indicator to analyse the environmental impacts of construction products.

Are life-cycle assessments worth the (recycled) paper they’re printed on?

Read the full story at Ensia.

Developed to provide a blueprint for environmental action, LCAs often sow seeds of discord. What can be done to fix that?

Mythbusting: Five common misperceptions surrounding the environmental impacts of single-use plastics

Read the full story from the University of Michigan.

Stand in the soda pop aisle at the supermarket, surrounded by rows of brightly colored plastic bottles and metal cans, and it’s easy to conclude that the main environmental problem here is an overabundance of single-use containers: If we simply recycled more of them, we’d go a long way toward minimizing impacts. In reality, most of the environmental impacts of many consumer products, including soft drinks, are tied to the products inside, not the packaging, according to an environmental engineer.

Associated journal article: Shelie A. Miller. Five Misperceptions Surrounding the Environmental Impacts of Single-Use PlasticEnvironmental Science & Technology, 2020; DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c05295

Australia: Over $15M awarded to research projects tackling solar PV waste

Read the full story at Waste Management Review.

The Federal Government is partnering with leading Australian universities to support new research projects addressing end-of-life issues for solar PV panels.

A total of $15.14 million has been awarded through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to support research teams at six Australian universities. This is the first time ARENA has funded projects to address end-of-life solar PV issues.

Environmental Impact Assessment of crystalline solar photovoltaic panels’ End-of-Life phase: Open and Closed-Loop Material Flow scenarios

Lisperguer, et al (2020). “Environmental Impact Assessment of crystalline solar photovoltaic panels’ End-of-Life phase: Open and Closed-Loop Material Flow scenarios.” Sustainable Production and Consumption 23, 157-173.


The full life cycle of today’s crystalline photovoltaic (PV) panel is dominated by a linear, open material flow paradigm. The Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy (C2C) applied in a Closed-Loop-Material-Cycle (CLMC) scenario seems promising to move towards a Circular Economy (CE). Environmental impacts associated with the End-of-life (EoL) phase of PV panels, particularly a CLMC scenario, have not yet been evaluated. To this end, this article uses the Life Cycle Assessment methodology to compare a linear Open-Loop-Material-System (OLMS) scenario with a novel CLMC system. Based on our results, the environmental impacts of a PV CLMC scenario are then compared with a Cadmium telluride (CdTe) panel CLMC scenario.

In terms of environmental impacts, the recovery of PV materials in a CLMC scenario results in substantial improvements over an OLMS scenario. Closing the material flow has reduced the Climate Change impact factor (kg CO2 eq) by 74%, compared with the OLMS scenario. However, EoL PV recycling technology still remains behind in environmental and energy intensity terms when compared to the EoL CdTe panel recycling technology within a CLMC scenario. Furthermore, during the recycling processes, our results showed that the highest specific energy uptake was 3264 TJ for PV, while for CdTe it was 2748 TJ. On the other hand, the use of toxic chemicals to recover Si and Cd are shown to significantly contribute to the environmental impacts of both EoL PV and CdTe CLMC scenarios.

Results show that the CLMC based on C2C principles has a favorable impact by reducing the environmental burden at the EoL. Nevertheless, it is imperative to reduce environmental burdens from the current thermochemical processes used to recycle silicon and to start considering the key role of C2C principles for PV panel design and recycling processes, aiming at the introduction of a CLMC system based on new standards and consistent regulations in order to reduce the environmental impacts of current PV panels, if a sustainable PV technology is desired.

Life cycle assessment of cars – new web tool helps consumers and researchers

Read the full story from the Paul Scherrer Institute.

Decision support for car buyers: Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute have developed a web tool called the Carculator that can be used to compare the environmental performance of passenger cars in detail. The program determines the environmental balance of vehicles with different size classes and powertrains, and presents the results in comparative graphics. The entire life cycle of the passenger cars is taken into account, including the manufacture of the vehicles and the environmentally relevant emissions from driving.

Webinar: Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Prioritization Tools: Sustainability Insights at a Glance

April 23, 2020, noon-1 pm
Register here.

This webinar introduces EPA’s SMM Prioritization Tools. These life cycle-based tools offer a starting place for governments, trade associations, NGOs, companies, small enterprises, and other organizations to establish priorities for environmental improvement, focus their limited financial and human resources where action could offer greater holistic benefit, and consider key industries for collaboration. Currently there are two tools: A National Tool and an Organization Tool. The National Tool provides a big picture view of sustainability in the United States for those with a national focus, such as government, trade associations and NGOs. The Organizational Tool provides quick sustainability snapshots for organizations such as companies, small enterprises and their sustainability and procurement staff.

The SMM Prioritization Tools generate dynamic charts that present over 10 million data points from a fully transparent, open and freely available life cycle model created by EPA. These charts provide insights across more than 20 environmental, social and economic indicators for over 390 categories of goods and services in the United States. They can be a great starting point when developing sustainability initiatives. All data used by the Tools are publicly available.

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