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A parametric environmental life cycle assessment of newspaper making in Spain



Most LCAs estimate environmental impacts for a specific situation (industry, sector or location) in a generic way, without considering the specific characteristics of the product or service being evaluated. This paper outlines the relevance of the use of parameters and scenarios in environmental assessment for a daily newspaper considering multiple factors. The results of the different environmental impacts were compared with a baseline reference scenario.


Different product specifications, sources of raw materials, manufacturing technologies, energy mix, locations of the printing plant, and distribution possibilities of the newspaper have been taken into account. The unit processes and the amounts allocated for each resource may vary depending on the scenarios. Inventory data were obtained directly from measured data for consumption in the printing plant located in Gran Canaria (Spain) and internal inventories and indirectly from information of existing processes and products. As functional units, both 1 kg of printed newspaper and 1 unit of printed newspaper have been used. The environmental impact assessment methodology ReCiPe has been applied in this study. Also endpoint indicators are shown as score (Pt) for different areas of protection.

Results and discussion

For variations in the number of printed copies, the results show that environmental impacts are very high for small runs. For large runs, the impacts decrease between −14 and −16% with respect to the baseline scenario. The environmental impact of paper in the final product depends on several variables including the use of recycled fiber, the papermaking technology and the energy used in the paper plant. For airlifted daily newspapers, this means an increase of over 98% in the Climate Change impact if it is not printed in the same place of distribution. The electricity mix also depends on the geographical location and significantly affects the impacts, especially in the case of an isolated territory with increments of over 12% compared to interconnected systems.


An impact assessment should take into account the suppliers and the characteristics of the raw materials the equipment, the technology, the energy mix, and all the variables that may affect the product. From the analysis of the scenarios, it is obtained that the low runs as well as the high pages and weights produce the greatest impacts. The use of recyclable paper, the shorter distance to the printing plant from the raw materials factories as well as the use of renewable energy sources considerably reduce the impacts generated.

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Correspondence to Alexis Lozano-Medina.

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Lozano-Medina, A., Pérez-Báez, S.O., Alamo, A.L. et al. A parametric environmental life cycle assessment of newspaper making in Spain. Int J Life Cycle Assess 23, 1240–1260 (2018).

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  • Ecolabel
  • Endpoint
  • Environmental impact
  • Newspaper
  • Parameter
  • Printing
  • Scenario