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Comparative life cycle assessment of re-use and replacement for video projectors

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The current focus of environmental legislation for energy-using products is an efficient energy consumption in the use stage. However, the production and waste treatment of electronic products are also related to environmental impacts in terms of declining metal resources and growing waste streams. This paper investigates the environmental impacts of life time extension versus energy efficiency for the product group video projector using life cycle assessment (LCA).


The product under study was an average video projector based on three LCD projectors. The studied systems included two possibilities after a regular first usage period: reconditioning for a second use or replacement by a primary successor with an energy efficiency increase of 5 and 10%. All impacts addressed were accounted using the ReCiPe 2008 method. The impact contribution of projector components was identified at midpoint and endpoint levels, while life cycle impacts were calculated with a focus on three impact categories. Furthermore, the amortization period of production emissions was quantified.

Results and discussion

LCA results showed that the use stage dominates life cycle impacts of the global warming potential and primary energy demand. For the metal depletion potential, the production stage accounts for most of the total life cycle load. The highest shares in production emissions were identified for electronic components, namely printed wired boards and integrated circuits. Reconditioning and reuse of a secondary projector resulted in minor environmental impacts compared to the replacement and use of a primary projector with an energy efficiency increase of 5%. The saving potential of the primary energy demand is higher only in the case of a 10% more efficient device as compared to the secondary projector.


The study concluded that production emissions and their amortization period are relevant factors offsetting any environmentally beneficial measures applied during the use phase. The study suggests that life time extension of video projectors can provide higher environmental improvement potentials, while energy efficiency increase during usage is less beneficial, given that major improvements in energy efficiency do not occur. Recommendations are valid for this particular case study. The study suggests that the current focus of mandatory product requirements for energy-using products on energy efficiency increase should be extended to measures of life time extension in order to serve the intent of an integrated product policy.

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We would like to thank Jan Schulte, Jonas Huber, Janine Bush, Michael Vietzke, and Hannes Ebertz at Rebeam GmbH for providing the projectors analyzed and detailed information of reconditioning. Special thanks go to René Scheumann who encouragingly supported the study, gave valuable feedback, and shared his expertise in sustainable electronics at any time. The kindly support by Stefan Sperling with English language revision and silent work space is very much appreciated. Ludwig Sommerer from thinkstep AG was extraordinarily patient while providing assistance in saving modeled processes out of the crashed GaBi data file.

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Correspondence to Chui Wan Cheung.

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The study was funded by Rebeam GmbH, Berlin.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Responsible editor: Andrea J. Russell-Vaccari

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Cheung, C.W., Berger, M. & Finkbeiner, M. Comparative life cycle assessment of re-use and replacement for video projectors. Int J Life Cycle Assess 23, 82–94 (2018).

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