Background, Aims and Scope
Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods can be grouped into two families: classical methods determining impact category indicators at an intermediate position of the impact pathways (e.g. ozone depletion potentials) and damage-oriented methods aiming at more easily interpretable results in the form of damage indicators at the level of the ultimate societal concern (e.g. human health damage). The Life Cycle Initiative, a joint project between UNEP1 and SETAC2, proposes a comprehensive LCA framework to combine these families of methods. The new framework takes a world-wide perspective, so that LCA will progress towards a tool meeting the needs of both developing and developed countries. By a more precise and broadly agreed description of main framework elements, the Life Cycle Initiative expects to provide a common basis for the further development of mutually consistent impact assessment methods.
Inputs to the LCIA midpoint-damage framework are results of Life Cycle Inventory analyses (LCI). Impact pathways connect the LCI results to the midpoint impact categories with the corresponding indicators, as well as to the damage categories at the level of damages to human health, natural environment, natural resources and man-made environment, via damage indicators. Mid-point impact categories simplify the quantification of these impact pathways where various types of emissions or extractions can be aggregated due to their comparable impact mechanisms. Depending on the available scientific information, impact pathways may be further described up to the level of damage categories by quantitative models, observed pathways or merely by qualitative statements. In the latter case, quantitative modelling may stop at mid-point. A given type of emission may exert damaging effects on multiple damage categories, so that a corresponding number of impact pathways is required. Correspondingly, a given damage category may be affected jointly by various types of emissions or extractions. It is therefore an important task of the Life Cycle Initiative to carefully select damage indicators. The content of the midpoint and of the damage categories is clearly defined, and proposals are made on how to express the extent of environmental damage by suitable indicator quantities.
Conclusions and Outlook
The present framework will offer the practitioner the choice to use either midpoint or damage indicators, depending on modelling uncertainty and increase in results interpretability. Due to the collaboration of acknowledged specialists in environmental processes and LCIA around the globe, it is expected that - after a few years of effort - the task forces of the Life Cycle Initiative will provide consistent and operational sets of methods and factors for LCIA in the future.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Bare JC, Norris GA, Pennington DW, McKone T (2003): TRACI: The Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and Other Environmental Impacts. Journal of Industrial Ecology 6 (3) 49–78
Bare JC, Hofstetter P, Pennington DW, Udo de Haes HA (2000): Life Cycle Impact Assessment Midpoints vs. Endpoints - the Sacrifices and the Benefits. Int J of LCA 5 (6) 319–326
Dubreuil A, Inaba A, Jolliet O (2002): Identification of Issues and Research Direction at the Montreal International Workshop on LCA and Metal. Proceedings of The Fifth International Conference on EcoBalance, Nov. 6 - Nov. 8, 2002, Tsukuba, Japan. Also see: Dubreuil, A, editor, 2004. life Cycle Assessment of Metals: Issues and Research Directions, SETAC Press, ISBN 1-880611-62-7, in presshttp://www.nrcan.gc.ca/Metal-LCA-Montreal e.htm
Goedkoop M, Spriensma R (2000): The Eco-indicator99: a damage oriented method for life cycle assessment, methodology report, second edi- tion, Amersfoort, Netherlands: Pré Consultantshttp://www.pre.nl/ecoindicator99/ei99-reports.htm, 132 pp.
Guinée JB, Gorrée M, Heijungs R, Huppes G, Kleijn R, de Koning A, van Oers L, Wegener Sleeswijk A, Suh S, Udo de Haes HA, de Bruijn H, van Duin R, Huijbregts MAJ (2002): Handbook on Life Cycle Assessment. Operational Guide to the ISO Standards. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, xii + 692 pp
Hauschild M, Wenzel H (1998): Environmental Assessment of Products. Volume 2: Scientific Background. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston. Hardbound Vol 2, ISBN 0-412-80810-2, 584 pp
Hayashi K, Itsubo N, Inaba A (2000): Development of Damage Function for Stratospheric Ozone Layer Depletion. A Tool Towards the Improvement of the Quality of Life Cycle Impact Assessment (also see proceedings of the ecobalance conference, 2002). Int J LCA 5 (5) 265–272
Hayashi K, Nakagawa A, Itsubo NH, Inaba A (2002): Assessment of Impacts Due to Additional Emission of Ozone Depleting Substances. Proceedings of The Fifth International Conference on EcoBalance, Nov.6 - Nov.8, 2002, Tsukuba, Japan
Heijungs R, Goedkoop M, Struijs J, Effting S, Sevenster M, Huppes G (2003): Towards a life cycle impact assessment method which comprises category indicators at the midpoint and the endpoint level. Report of the first project phase: Design of the new method. VROM,’s-Gravenhage, The Netherlandshttp://www.leidenuniv.nl/cml/ssp/publications/recipe phase1.pdf
Hofstetter P (1998): Perspectives in Life Cycle Impact Assessment, A Structure Approach to Combine Models of the Technosphere, Ecosphere and Valuesphere; Kluwer Academic Publishers
ISO (2000): ISO 14042: Environmental Management - Life Cycle Assessment - Life Cycle Impact Assessment. Geneva, International Organization for Standardization
Itsubo N, Inaba A (2003): A New LCIA Method: LIME has been completed. Int J LCA 8 (5) 305
Jolliet O, Margni M, Charles R, Humbert S, Payet J, Rebitzer G, Rosenbaum R (2003a): IMPACT 2002+: A New Life Cycle Impact Assessment Methodology. Int J LCA 8(6) 324–330http://www.epfl.ch/impact
Jolliet O, Brent A, Goedkoop M, Itsubo N, Mueller-Wenk R, Pena C, Schenck R, Stewart M, Weidema B, Bare JC, Heijungs R, Pennington DW, Rebitzer G, Suppen N, Udo de Haes HA (2003b): Final Report of the LCIA Definition Study. Life Cycle Impact Assessment Programme of the UNEP/ SETAC Life Cycle Initiative, 12/2003http://www.uneptie.orp/pc/sustain/ lcinitiative/lcia program.htm
Ligthart T, Aboussouan L, van de Meent D, Schönnenbeck M, Hauschild M, Delbeke K, Struijs J, Russell A, Udo de Haes HA, Atherton J, van Tilborg W, Karman Ch, Korenromp R, Sap G, Baukloh A, Dubreuil A, Adams W, Heijungs R, Jolliet O, de Koning A, Chapman P, Verdonck F, van der Loos R, Eikelboom R, Kuyper J (2004): Declaration of Apeldoorn on LCIA of Non-Ferro Metals. SETAC Globe and Life Cycle Initiative Network Newsletter 4http://www.uneptie.org/pc/sustain/lcinitiative/ LC net Issue4/LC net Issue4.htm
Mueller-Wenk R (2002): Attribution to road traffic of the impact of noise on health, Environmental Series No. 339, BUWAL Bern
Pennington DW, Potting J, Finnveden G, Lindeijer E, Jolliet O, Rydberg T, Rebitzer G (2004): Life Cycle Assessment (Part 2): Current Impact Assessment Practice. Environment International 30 (5) 721–739
Steen B (1999): A Systematic Approach to Environmental Priority Strategies in Product Development (EPS). Version 2000 - a) General System Characteristics. b) - Models and Data. Chalmers University of Technology, Centre for Environmental Assessment of Products and material Systems (CPM) Report 1999:4 and 5, Gothenburg 1999http://eps.esa.chalmers.se/ download.htm
Stewart M, Jolliet O (2004): User needs analysis and development of priorities for life cycle impact assessment. Int J LCA 9 (3) 153–160
Udo de Haes HA, Finnveden G, Goedkoop M, Hauschild M, Hertwich E, Hofstetter P, Jolliet O, Klöpffer W, Krewitt W, Lindeijer E, Mueller-Wenk R, Olsen I, Pennington D, Potting J, Steen B (2002): Life-Cycle Impact Assessment: Striving towards Best Practice, ©2002 Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). ISBN 1-880611-54-6, 272pp
UNEP-WCMC species database, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centrehttp://www.unep-wcmc.org/
UNEP (2003): Report of the Lausanne expert meeting for Life Cycle Toxicity Impact assessment. Life Cycle Initiative Network Newsletter 2http:// www.uneptie.org/pc/sustain/lcinitiative/LC net Issue2/LC net Issue2d.htm
WHO (2002): The World Health Report 2002, World Health Organisation, Geneva
About this article
Cite this article
Jolliet, O., Müller-Wenk, R., Bare, J. et al. The LCIA midpoint-damage framework of the UNEP/SETAC life cycle initiative. Int J LCA 9, 394 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02979083
- Damage category
- impact pathway
- life cycle impact assessment (LCIA)
- Life Cycle Initiative
- midpoint category