The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 48–56

Marginal production technologies for life cycle inventories


  • Bo P. Weidema
    • Institute for Product Development
  • Niels Frees
    • Institute for Product Development
  • Anne-Merete Nielsen
    • Institute for Product Development
LCA methodology

DOI: 10.1007/BF02979395

Cite this article as:
Weidema, B.P., Frees, N. & Nielsen, A. Int. J. LCA (1999) 4: 48. doi:10.1007/BF02979395


Marginal technologies are defined as the technologies actually affected by the small changes in demand typically studied in prospective, comparative life cycle assessments. Using data on marginal technologies thus give the best reflection of the actual consequences of a decision. Furthermore, data on marginal technologies are easier to collect, more precise, and more stable in time than data on average technologies. A 5-step procedure is suggested to identify the marginal technologies. The step-wise procedure first clarifies the situation in which the marginal should apply, and then identifies what specific technology is marginal in this situation. The procedure is illustrated in two examples: European electricity production and pulp and paper production.


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© Ecomed Publishers 1999