, Volume 11, Issue 6, pp 417-424
Date: 05 Aug 2005

Feasibility of Applying Site-dependent Impact Assessment of Acidification in LCA (8 pp)

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Abstract

Goal, Scope and Background

Taking into account the location of emissions and its subsequent, site-dependent impacts improves the accuracy of LCIA. Opponents of site-dependent impact assessment argue that it is too time-consuming to collect the required additional inventory data. In this paper we quantify this time and look into the added value of site-dependent LCIA results.

Methods

We recalculated the acidifying impact for three existing LCA studies: linoleum, stone wool, and water piping systems. The amount of time needed to collect the required additional data is reported. The EDIP2003 methodology provides site-generic and site-dependent acidification factors. We used these factors to recalculate acidification for the case studies. We analyzed differences between site-generic and site-dependent acidification and reported problems experienced.

Results and Discussion

Finding the location of processes and emissions was easy. The reports of the three case studies contained most of this information. Far more time was needed to disaggregate processes to the level where emissions can be localized. Although the overall conclusions with regard to acidification did not change in the case studies, the relative importance of processes shifted when considering sub-levels. This is especially important for improvement analysis. Site-dependent acidification assessment was hampered in the linoleum case study where about 40% of the acidification originates from non-European emissions. However, EDIP2003 provides no site-dependent factors for these countries and site-generic factors had to be used instead. Thus, calculating site-dependent acidification is only feasible for LCA studies in which the majority of the emissions originate in Europe. We could not reproduce all parts of the three case studies using the report and additional public resources. This hindered our recalculation. In fact, any additional analysis will be hampered by this lack of reproducibility. ISO recommends such reproducibility for comparative assertion disclosed to the public.

Conclusion

Spatially differentiated acidification is feasible for each of the three case studies. Finding the location of processes and emissions was easy, but quite some time was needed to disaggregate processes and emissions to the appropriate level. Overall conclusions on acidification remained the same for the case studies, but the relative contribution of basic processes changed when applying site-dependent impact assessment. Though the three case studies were all rather detailed and complete, none of them was fully reproducible. This complicated recalculation of acidification, and will in fact make any additional analysis difficult.