Ecological scarcity 2013—new features and its application in industry and administration—54th LCA forum, Ittigen/Berne, Switzerland, December 5, 2013


The 54th LCA forum was held on December 5, 2013 to launch the fourth generation ecological scarcity method, applied to Switzerland. This conference report presents the highlights of the LCA forum. The ecological scarcity method belongs to the family of distance-to-target methods and is based on politically and legally defined environmental goals. The application of the method in industry and politics as well as its benefits, the main elements of the method and new elements such as the assessment of abiotic resources, global land use, noise and nuclear waste are presented. The losses (and not the extraction) of abiotic resources are characterised with the abiotic depletion potential. Land use impacts on flora and fauna biodiversity are quantified per land use type and for 14 different biomes. Transport noise is assessed based on the number of highly annoyed persons. Finally, nuclear waste is characterised using the radio toxicity index, a parameter commonly used in the nuclear industry. In three policy-making areas, LCA in general and the ecological scarcity method in particular are being applied: waste policy, biofuels tax exemption and Green Economy. Practical applications in administration and industry show that the eco-factors are considered useful in decision making because they cover a broad range of environmental impacts aggregated to a single score. The results of first applications and comparisons showed that the switch from third to fourth generation eco-factors hardly affects the results and conclusions although there are some significant changes in the eco-factor of individual pollutants. It was concluded that the fourth generation is a moderate evolution from the third generation published in 2008. It is considered crucial to allow for single-score methods as they allow to assess environmental impacts comprehensively and to identify environmental hot spots. The method presented thus is suited for a “true and fair” reporting on environmental information.

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    Mandatory regulations will only be implemented in accordance with international regulations (European Union).


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Correspondence to Rolf Frischknecht.

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Frischknecht, R., Büsser Knöpfel, S. Ecological scarcity 2013—new features and its application in industry and administration—54th LCA forum, Ittigen/Berne, Switzerland, December 5, 2013. Int J Life Cycle Assess 19, 1361–1366 (2014).

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  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Nuclear Waste
  • Fourth Generation
  • Characterisation Factor
  • Water Footprint