Weighting in Life Cycle assessments in a global context

LCA methodology

Abstract

The option of weighting impact categories according to ISO 14042 on Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) is particularly difficult for global organizations, as they have to consider a wide range of values. The motivation for employing weighting is usually based on the desire to simplify LCIA output, especially in circumstances where product system tradeoffs occur. Looking globally at regional variations in legislation, consumer values, monetary valuation, existing weighting sets and expert opinions, no globally agreed upon weighting set is likely to be derived. This is due to both the inherent subjectivity of weighting and local variations in environmental imperatives. Hence, the authors recommend that LCIA quantitative weighting, especially those provided in pre-packaged software instruments, should not be employed. Admittedly, to use a spectrum of LCIA results for internal design decisions, some kind of tradeoff analysis has to be performed, especially if comparing competing design alternatives. However, this trade-off analysis should be done separately from the technical LCA study and should reflect values and visions of the global organization, as well as the circumstances of the targeted market, in a qualitative way. For any external communication, none of the quantitative weighting sets can be used.

Keywords

Impact categories intercultural differences ISO14042 LCA methodology weighting across the categories 

References

  1. Babu PR, Sangle S, Khanna P (1999): Evaluation of Life Cycle Impacts: Identification of Societal Weights of Environmental Issues. Int J LCA 4 (3) 221–228Google Scholar
  2. Barnthouse L, Fava J, Humphreys K, Hunt R, Laibson L, Noesen S, Norris G, Owens J, Todd J, Vigon B, Weitz K, Young S (1997): Life Cycle Impact Assessment-The State-of-the-Art.SETAC 1997,1998Google Scholar
  3. BDI — Association of German Industry (Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie) (1999): Implementation of Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to Inform the Public and Politicians, Cologne, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  4. Bengtsson M (2000): Environmental Valuation and Life Cycle Assessment. CPM Report 2000:1. Chalmers, University of Technology, Göteborg, SwedenGoogle Scholar
  5. Bond M, Akhtar H, Ball P, Bhanthumanavin D, Boski P et al. (1987): Chinese Values and the Search for Culture-Free Dimensions of Culture. J Cross-Cultural Psychology18 (2) 143–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buwal/Bfs (1998): Bundesamt für Umwelt, Wald und Landschaft / Bundesamt für Statistik: Umweltbewußtsein—Umwelt in der Schweiz. Bern, Switzerland (http://www.admin.ch/buwal/d/themen/koord/ bewusst and http://www.admin.ch/ buwal/d/themen/grundl/ beobacht/index.htm)Google Scholar
  7. Cairncross F (1992): Costing the Earth. Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Massachusetts, USAGoogle Scholar
  8. Dietz et al. (1998, quoted in Hohmann C 1999): Consumers’ Environmental Attitudes and Behaviour Towards the Automotive Industry —A Pilot Study. London School of Economics and Ford Motor Company, September 1999, UKGoogle Scholar
  9. Erin (1999): Techniques to Value Environmental Resources — An Introductory Handbook (http://www.erin.gov.au/epcg/esd/hand-book/valuatn.html)Google Scholar
  10. Ernst & Young (1998): Integrated Product Policy. Study for European Commission DGXIGoogle Scholar
  11. Finnveden G (2000): On the Limitations of Life Cycle Assessment and Environmental System Analysis Tools in General. Int J LCA 5 (4) 229–238Google Scholar
  12. GaBi 3.0 (1998): Softwaretool Ganzheitliche Bilanzierung 3.0; Dokumentation, Gewichtung. PE Product Engineering GmbH, Kirchheim/Teck, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  13. Goedkoop M (1995): The Eco-Indicator 95. RIVM Report 9523, Bilthoven, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  14. Governments (1998): Willingness to Pay for Electricity from Renewable Energy Sources. (http//www.erin.gov.au/epcg/esd/handbook/ valuatn.html: http://www.eren.doe.gov/greenpower/willing.htmllGoogle Scholar
  15. Graedel TE, Allenby BR (1995): Industrial Ecology. Prentice-Hall, UK Hofstetter P (1999): Top-Down Arguments for a Goal-Oriented Assessment Structure. In: Global LCA Village (http://www. scientificiournals.com/lca/village/WIA2 99/TopDown.htm)Google Scholar
  16. Hohmann C (1999): Consumers’ Environmental Attitudes and Behavior Towards the Automotive Industry — A Pilot Study. London, School of Economics and Ford Motor Company, September 1999, UKGoogle Scholar
  17. Hunkeler D, Yasui I, Yamamoto R (1998): LCA in Japan: Policy and Progress. In: Ökobilanzen VI; UTECH ’98, 19.-20.2.1998Google Scholar
  18. Hunt R, Franklin W (1974): Resource and Environmental Profile Analysis of Nine Beverage Container Alternatives. EPA Report 530/SW-91c, NTIS # PB 253486/5wpGoogle Scholar
  19. IPOS (1997, quoted in Hohmann C,1999): Consumers’ Environmental Attitudes and Behaviour Towards the Automotive Industry—A Pilot Study. London, School of Economics and Ford Motor Company, September 1999, UKGoogle Scholar
  20. Itsubo N, Inaba A, Matsuno Y, Yasui I, Yamamoto R (2000): Current Status of Weighting Methodologies in Japan. Int J LCA 5(1) 5–11Google Scholar
  21. Lee KM (1999): A Weighting Method for the Korean Eco-Indicator. Int J LCA 4 (3) 161–165Google Scholar
  22. Ri*Questa GmbH, Unternehmensberatung, Bürstadt, Germany (1999): Umfrageergebnisse der internationalen Umfrage ‘International Environmental Monitoring’, published 1st October 1999, VDI Nachrichten No 39, p 36Google Scholar
  23. Seppälä J (1998): Decision Analysis as a Tool for Life Cycle Impact Assessment. LCA Documents, Vol 4, Ecoinforma Press and ecomed publishers, Landsberg, GermanyGoogle Scholar
  24. Sweden (1998): http://www.environ.se/www-eng/ethreath.htmGoogle Scholar
  25. Udo de Haes HA, Jolliet O, Finnveden G, Hauschild M, Krewitt W, MuellerWenk R (1999a): Best Available Practice Regarding Impact Categories and Category Indicators in LCIA. Int J LCA 4 (2) 66–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Udo de Haes HA, Jolliet O, Finnveden G, Hauschild M, Krewitt W, Mueller-Wenk R (1999b): Best Available Practice Regarding Impact Categories and Category Indicators in Life Cycle Impact Assessment. Int J LCA 4 (3) 167–174Google Scholar
  27. Wagner R (1998): Konsistenzprüfung von Kosten-Nutzen-Analysen mit der Kontingenten Evaluierungsmethode, Brandenburgisch Technische Universitat Cottbus, Fakultät Umweltwissenschaften und Verfahrenstechnik (June 1998)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ecomed Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ford-Werke AG, Henry Ford StrasseKölnGermany
  2. 2.Ford Motor Co., FRL — Ford Research LaboratoryDearbornUSA

Personalised recommendations