Abiotic resource depletion in LCA—background and update of the anthropogenic stock extended abiotic depletion potential (AADP) model

  • Laura Schneider
  • Markus Berger
  • Matthias Finkbeiner



The depletion of abiotic resources needs to be discussed in the light of available geologic stocks. For the evaluation of long-term resource availability under consideration of the resources’ functional relevance, the abiotic resource stock that is ultimately available for human purposes needs to be identified. This paper discusses the determination of geologic resources stocks and outlines an approach for the estimation of the resource stocks ultimately available for human use in the long-term. Based on these numbers, existing characterization factors for the assessment of resource depletion by means of the anthropogenic stock extended abiotic depletion potential (AADP) model can be updated.


For the assessment of long-term resource availability, the share of abiotic resources ultimately available for human extraction needs to be inferred from the quantity of the elements available in the earth’s crust. Based on existing data on crustal concentrations and assumptions regarding the maximal extractable amount of resource, three different approaches for the determination of ultimately extractable reserves are proposed. The different resource numbers are compared, and their effects on the resulting characterization factors derived from the abiotic depletion potential (ADP) and the AADP models are analyzed.

Results and discussion

A best estimate for the determination of ultimately extractable reserves is proposed. Based on this new resource number, AADP characterization factors for 35 materials are calculated. The use of ultimately extractable reserves leads to an improved applicability of the AADP model and increases the overall significance of the results.


Resource security is a premise for sustainable development. The use of resources needs to be evaluated in the context of their decreasing availability for future generations. Thus, resource choices should also be based on an analysis of available resource stocks. The proposed AADP characterization factors based on ultimately extractable reserves will enable a more realistic evaluation of long-term resource availability for human purposes.


Abiotic depletion potential AADP LCA Long-term resource availability Resource scarcity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Schneider
    • 1
  • Markus Berger
    • 1
  • Matthias Finkbeiner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Technology, Chair of Sustainable EngineeringTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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