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08:30-10:00 Session 11A: Special Session: Extending the LCA concepts of sustainable forest product utilization

Typical product life cycle assessment provides an environmental performance on a static condition which can be problematic. This special session will focus on discussing new forest product LCA concepts that are currently being incorporated regarding forest product utilization. Specifically, sustainable utilization of forest products have begun to consider spatial and temporal emissions to fully capture the full environmental and human-health impacts for bioenergy and bio-based products made from wood.

Location: 2311
Environmental impact assessment of prescribed fires incorporating air chemistry and pollutants dispersion in the Pacific Northwest

ABSTRACT. In the Pacific Northwest (PNW) a large portion of the harvest residue produced by forest operations is commonly collected, piled and burned in prescribed fires. Fires are responsible for the emission of a large amount of chemicals including particulate matter, organic and inorganic compounds and heavy metals, with potential impact on human health. The impact on human health is not only related to pollutants toxicity, but it also depends on their fate and on human exposure. Air chemistry and physics as well as the background air quality determine pollutants fate and exposure, largely varying based on site characteristics. Despite the importance of site-specific variables to determine the impact on human health, currently in LCA the scientific consensus model used for human health impact assessment - USEtox - is developed with continental and global spatial scales. This study aims to develop a geo-spatially nuanced Life Cycle Impact Assessment tool to assess the environmental and human health impacts associated with prescribed fires in the PNW region by incorporating the outputs from BlueSky and AIRPACT programs. BlueSky is a framework for fire modeling which modularly links numerous fire emissions and dispersion models to site-specific fire information and loading. AIRPACT is a computerized system for predicting air quality in the PNW by calculating the chemistry and physics of air pollutants as determined by pollutants emissions within the context of natural air chemistry and predicted meteorology. Combining the two models it was possible to simulate the behavior of the chemicals emitted in prescribed fires, regarding their fate and human exposure to determine site-specific characterization factors to be used within the LCA framework to evaluate environmental and human health impacts in the PNW region. The proposed approach has proven key to perform a precise and meaningful evaluation of local life cycle impact in order to manage and minimize prescribed fires.

Extending the LCA Concepts of Sustainable Forest Product Utilization: Modeling the Collection and Transportation Logistics of Forest Residues using Life Cycle Assessment

ABSTRACT. The expansion of wood-based bioenergy has provided new uses for these residues on top of traditional residual treatment such as slash pile burning, but the environmental impacts of residue collection and transportation need to be studied to determine the feasibility of such operation. Geographical location and topographical characteristics can influence the environmental impacts associated with the delivery of woody biomass to bioenergy production facility. Although many studies have investigated the emissions produced from bioenergy production, few have taken road conditions and distance into account. The study focuses on investigating the environmental impacts of three collection and transportation system scenarios under different road conditions (paved highway, gravel road, and dirt road) and distance allocations using life cycle assessment (LCA). The system scenarios are 1) Bin truck with stationary grinder at centralized landing, 2) Bundling in forest with electric grinder at facility, and 3) Mobile chipper with set-out trailer. With the total distance set to 50 miles, the distance of dirt road was set constant at 1 mile, and the distance for paved highway increased from 45% to 85%. The objective of the study is to estimate the emissions produced by each system scenario and the impact of road conditions on the overall emissions. The results suggested that as the distance of paved highway increases, the global warming potential (GWP) decreases in all systems, particularly for system 1 (from 41.36 kg CO2 eq. to 34.17 kg CO2 eq.). This may be due to the higher emissions from bin truck. The mobile chipper system appears to be the most efficient since it is able to reach the slash piles directly, eliminating the need for two transportation stages. The collection and transportation of forest residues play an important role in the biofuel production chain. The economic and environmental burden directly influence the feasibility and demand of biofuel. The results of this study can serve as a reference when developing bioenergy facilities to determine the best location outside the forest site and for estimating the appropriate locations for slash piles.

LCA study for pilot commercial scale production of cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) from wood.
SPEAKER: Hongmei Gu

ABSTRACT. Nanotechnology in forest products and production of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC)/cellulose nanofibrils has been growing rapidly with close attention from the pulp and paper industry, governments, universities and research institutes. Nanocellulose has been found in many advanced applications for material enhancement and product improvement. New CNC product technologies have been intensively studied. However, life-cycle analysis (LCA) research that has been conducted on these nano products and their associated production has been primarily on lab-scale operations. Soon with more and more CNC enhanced new products being developed to substitute fossil based products, the basic material CNC’s LCA information will be required for the enhanced products’ environmental impacts. Therefore, such LCA studies on CNC are very important and will be the basis for further research in the field of nanocellulose.

The paper will also lay out a framework on what LCA can do to identify environmental “hotspots” and thus improve nanocellulose production on an environmental basis while enabling nano products’ market penetration. In addition, present LCA research and projects on current nanocellulose technologies will be presented. The primary focus of the paper will be a preliminary LCA conducted on a nanocellulose pilot-scale production line recently developed at the USDA Forest Service Forest Product Laboratory. The pilot-scale operation is only one of the three pilot-scale productions for CNC from wood pulp in North American and produces 25 kg of CNC per batch (or 50~75 kg per week). Once completed, the life-cycle impact assessment results will be used for scaling up to the commercial product line that can produce 1 tonne of CNC per day.

A review of carbon loss from wood products in anaerobic landfills
SPEAKER: Blane Grann

ABSTRACT. Organic materials decompose in anaerobic landfills releasing CO2 and CH4. However, only a fraction of the total organic carbon is released through anaerobic decomposition whereas the rest remains stored in landfills. The fraction which decomposes is referred to by the IPCC (2006) as the fraction of degradable organic carbon that decomposes (DOCf). In this presentation, assumptions and empirical estimates of wood product decomposition in anaerobic landfills are reviewed. 

For landfilled wood products, the interquartile range of DOCf in model assumptions in the literature was found to be 9.0-36%. In contrast, the interquartile range of reported empirical estimates for the DOCf of wood products was found to be 0.0-13%. 

Empirical methods used to estimate carbon loss have been based on mass balance principles measuring C emissions (as CO2 and CH4), or initial and final carbon content, and have been conducted in both laboratory and landfill conditions. Potential limitations of empirical estimated include: a) adopting a correction factor based on the original and final lignin content, and b) violating mass balance principles by limiting carbon estimates to cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin constituents. Challenges associated with measuring carbon loss from landfill samples have led some authors to use a correction factor (a ratio of the initial and final lignin content of the samples) to estimate the final C content of test samples in terms of the original mass of material. The application of this correction factor was premised on the assumption that lignin does not degrade in anaerobic landfill conditions. However, methods applying this correction factor are potentially invalid given that lignin measurements were based on Klason lignin methods, and Klason lignin has recently been shown to undergo either degradation or re-polymerization in anaerobic conditions (De la Cruz et al. 2014). 

These results have important implications for waste management decision support life cycle assessments involving wood products and improving our understanding of the carbon cycle of forest products. To improve accuracy of DOCf estimates, future estimates should be based on mass balance principles that rely on either measurements of CO2 and CH4, or the difference between initial and final C content. As a cross-validation step, both methods should be simultaneously applied.


De la Cruz, F. B., Yelle, D. J., Gracz, H. S., & Barlaz, M. A. (2014). Chemical Changes during Anaerobic Decomposition of Hardwood, Softwood, and Old Newsprint under Mesophilic and Thermophilic Conditions. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 62(27), 6362–6374.

08:30-10:00 Session 11B: Methods 5
Location: 2306
The Impact of Practitioner Decisions on LCA for Marine Energy Converters

ABSTRACT. The LCA methodology is designed to be used for a wide range of applications, but this flexibility introduces considerable scope for variation in results. This is a particular issue in the marine renewable energy industry, where estimates of the Global Warming Potential (GWP) and energy return on investment inform policy maker and investor decisions. Although existing papers have identified the specific limitations of LCA [1-4], few have attempted to quantify the effects of individual assumptions and methodological choices.

A number of carbon and energy audits of Marine Energy Converters (MECs) have been carried out at the University of Edinburgh, and recent work has taken the raw data from some of these studies and expanded them to full LCAs with comprehensive sensitivity analyses [5-8]. Access to the original calculations, each carried out by a different person, allows the impact of different practitioner choices to be examined in detail and quantified. One such review was presented in [9] and further refined in [8], using the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter as a case study. This paper further expands this work to include a second case study of the Seagen tidal current turbine [5, 7], identifying the key sources of variation in the results, with particular reference to LCA methodology and selection of life cycle impact assessment method. The principal aim of this work is to provide recommendations on best practice for LCA of MECs, and potentially inform LCA studies of all types of renewable energy converter.

A preliminary review of the results focuses on the GWP and energy intensity, finding that variations between studies are typically 17 to 33%, but as much as 1027% in the case of the GWP of the Seagen [5, 7]. The most significant variations are expected to be due to the applied recycling allocation method, differences in LCI data source, and chosen characterisation factors. This work will quantify the contribution of each of these key choices to the variation in results, examine variation in other impact categories, and provide recommendations for future analyses to maximise comparability.


1. Price, L. and A. Kendall, Wind Power as a Case Study. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 2012. 16: p. S22-S27. 2. Davidsson, S., M. Höök, and G. Wall, A review of life cycle assessments on wind energy systems. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2012. 17(6): p. 729-742. 3. Finkbeiner, M., Carbon footprinting - opportunities and threats. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2009. 14(2): p. 91-94. 4. Schreiber, A., P. Zapp, and J. Marx, Meta-Analysis of Life Cycle Assessment Studies on Electricity Generation with Carbon Capture and Storage. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 2012. 16: p. S155-S168. 5. Douglas, C.A., G.P. Harrison, and J.P. Chick, Life cycle assessment of the Seagen marine current turbine. Proc IMechE Part M: J. Maritime Environment, 2008. 222(M1): p. 1-12. 6. Parker, R.P.M., G.P. Harrison, and J.P. Chick, Energy and carbon audit of an offshore wave energy converter. Proc. IMechE Part A: J. Power and Energy, 2007. 221(A8): p. 1119-1130. 7. Miliara, D., Full Life Cycle Assessment of a Tidal Current Turbine (Seagen), in School of Engineering. 2013, University of Edinburgh. 8. Thomson, R.C., Carbon and Energy Payback of Variable Renewable Generation, in School of Engineering. 2014, University of Edinburgh: Edinburgh. 9. Thomson, C., G. Harrison, and J. Chick. Life Cycle Assessment in the Marine Renewable Energy Sector. in LCA XI. 2011. Chicago, USA.

Resource Availability from a LCA perspective – Method development to enable decision support
SPEAKER: Roberta Graf

ABSTRACT. The scarcity of resources, political, economic or geological induced, is gaining importance for today´s society and the affiliated industries. This fact is highlighted by the attention the topic attracts of several governmental bodies including the EU and the US. The former identifies critical raw materials for its industries and develops approaches [1]. Rare earth elements are one example for listed raw materials because of their economic importance whilst facing environmental country and supply risk [2]. Future material or technology decisions should be based on sound information about the availability of the resources inclined. Existing methodologies need to be extended to cover all relevant aspects.

The German Mineral Resources Agency observes not only geological information but tends to cover larger parts of the value chain [3]. The presented method aims to broaden this approach by including further information, as for example recycling rates. The goal is to evaluate the sustainability of choices with a focus on the future viability. An identification of indicators and parameters, describing the availability of resources and their temporal range, is the first step. It bases on a literature review of existing methodologies. Furthermore typical value chains are modularized analog to the procedure of LCA modeling. Benchmarks are then assigned for the modularized subparts and the prior identified parameters. A generic material flow analysis (MFA) model is appropriate for the dynamic character of resource availability. The model implements the mentioned parameters. Via scenario technics the assigned benchmarks are used to evaluate the MFA model dynamical. The dynamic MFA model can thereby later be applied to evaluate the sustainability of material or technology choices.

The presentation will discuss a methodological approach to evaluate future availability of resources beyond the consideration of the scope of geological stock. An outline of the envision method will be presented as well as first results for the modularization and the setting of the benchmarks.

The illustrated approach will establish a reliable tool to analyze the sustainability of choices which are made on a regular basis in industries worldwide. It serves as a safeguard for decision makers as early as in their product development phase.

[1] EC: Report on Critical Raw Materials for the EU. Report of the Ad hoc Working Group on defining critical raw materials. 2014. [2] Oakdene Hollins & Fraunhofer ISI: Study on Critical Raw Materials at EU Level. Final Report. 2013 [3] DERA: Dera-Rohstoffliste 2014. Angebotskonzentrationen bei mineralischen Rohstoffen und Zwischenprodukten – potenzielle Preis- und Lieferrisiken. 2015

Adding value to your LCA by Material Flow Cost Accounting
SPEAKER: Mieke Klein

ABSTRACT. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) [1] is frequently used in a number of companies. While it is a suitable tool to identify optimization potentials from the environmental perspective, it can also be combined with Material Flow Cost Accounting (MFCA) to complement the analysis with an economic perspective.

Many of these LCAs are initiated by the sustainability department. Oftentimes, LCA is applied to use results for communication, to quantify and decrease environmental impact and in order to document responsible behavior. While they are costly as they are time-consuming, only few companies have realized that conducting an LCA can provide the foundation for further economic assessment. In case that a material flow network was set up to conduct the LCA and the software in use supports MFCA, this method can easily be implemented. Traditional cost accounting allocates waste handling costs to the products. MFCA (as described in [2]) calculates the true costs of waste by allocating all costs caused by material losses on these. This includes not only waste handling, but also their share in material costs and processing costs. To enable this, it is important to handle material losses as (unintended) byproducts.

The case study of a metal processing company will be presented. For one small metal component, the eight processing steps were modeled and analyzed. Initially, a LCA was conducted and hotspots of environmental impact identified. Subsequently, costs for material, energy, labor and hourly rates for the machines were included (preliminary results presented at [3]). Two processes caused the majority of material loss. Even though the second process step caused roughly twice as much material loss as the sixth process step, the latter contributes more than double of the costs.

This example shows how the combination of LCA and MFCA provides a solid foundation for comprehensive decision-support.

[1] ISO 14040 (2006): Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Principles and framework, International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), Geneve. [2] ISO 14051 (2011): Environmental management - Material flow cost accounting - General framework, International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), Geneve. [3] Preiß, Marlene (2014): Material Flow Cost Accounting in Umberto using the example of a metal processing company. Oral Presentation at Umberto User Workshop, Hamburg.

Carbon Footprint of buildings in the Costa Rican context: A case study using a partial life cycle approach

ABSTRACT. Several international methodologies provide detailed guidelines for quantifying the carbon footprint of a product and can be applied to assess the life cycle of a building (LCA). However, these procedures have not yet been tailored to fit conditions in Costa Rica, a country that seeks to be a low emissions economy.

The objectives of this study were: a) to analyze existing LCA methodologies in order to identify which is the best suited for the Costa Rican building sector, b) to prepare a spreadsheet tool to calculate the partial carbon footprint of any building project using the selected procedure, and finally c) to apply it to a building case.

The ISO/TS 14067:2013 Carbon Footprint of products-Requirements and guidelines for quantification and communication was the selected methodology. It was adjusted to local conditions and it was applied to Trópika, a habitation module designed and built for the Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 by students of the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica.

A partial LCA from cradle to construction was conducted for the Trópika house unit. The estimated embodied carbon was 28 tons CO2e for the 81 m2 house, or 345 kg CO2e per m2 of useable floor area. Carbon fixation was 15 tons of CO2e, and the final balance was 13 tons of CO2e. The building materials made up 80% of the total embodied carbon. Metals and timber accounted for 40% and 22% respectively of the total. Regarding the total mass of the module (kg), metals and timber accounted 21% and 53% respectively. These results were validated by comparing them with those obtained in other tools such as SimaPro V7.3.3 as well as data in literature.

As one of the economic engines, the building sector needs to align itself with the country's goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2021. This study, as the first of its kind in the country, introduces one easy to use tool to identify baseline conditions and to be used as a decision making tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by the sector. The benefit is to create measurable, verifiable and comparable data to analyze and improve construction processes.

08:30-10:00 Session 11C: Food Industry 1
Location: 2301
Understanding Ranges of Nutrient Losses in Agriculture, Focusing on Dairy Farms

ABSTRACT. Nutrient management represents both a challenge and opportunity to agriculture, as lost nutrients may impact water and air quality. Such losses may also have direct economic implications for farms, via possible phosphorus supply shortages [1] or future nutrient regulation (e.g., for eutrophication or greenhouse gases).

Recent LCA efforts to assess farm nutrient losses have either relied on default emission factors or aggregated results from process models (e.g., [2], [3]). Though spatial and process variability complicates this task, there is still a need in LCA to improve the understanding of farm-level nutrient inventory. Using a combination of literature meta-analysis and case study modeling, this research outlines and estimates the range of nutrient losses on dairy farms, as well as the potential scale of improved nutrient cycling on these farms. Dairy farms were chosen in order to capture crop and livestock losses.

For the meta-analysis, we compiled ~300 research articles for nutrient flows on dairy farms, normalizing by cow and by milk production. We cataloged the nitrogen and phosphorus flows crossing the farm boundary (e.g., purchased feed) and internal to the farm (e.g., manure application to crops). Some flows had large coefficients of variation, such as total excretion of nitrogen (c.o.v. = 2.3, n = 43) and total intake of nitrogen (c.o.v. = 2.7, n = 94).

We compared these results to modeled nutrient flows on a commercial dairy farm, using the process-based models IFSM [4] and Manure-DNDC [5]. Field N2O emissions differed between the models (3.8-11.3 tonnes N2O/ yr), but other emissions, such as P and N losses to (ground)water through leaching, run-off and erosion are comparable across models. Whole-farm ammonia emissions are also similar in models (87.6 – 122.1 tonnes NH3/yr).

The variation among farms in the literature and models will be used to bound nutrient losses for LCA studies: for those flows with large reported and modeled variation, future work will identify controlling factors that can be captured in an LCA framework. For those flows with minimal variation, average values would be appropriate for LCA studies.


[1] D. P. Van Vuuren, A. F. Bouwman, and A. H. W. Beusen, “Phosphorus demand for the 1970–2100 period: A scenario analysis of resource depletion,” Glob. Environ. Change, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 428–439, Aug. 2010. 

[2] M. Guerci, L. Bava, M. Zucali, A. Sandrucci, C. Penati, and A. Tamburini, “Effect of farming strategies on environmental impact of intensive dairy farms in Italy,” J. Dairy Res., vol. 80, no. 03, pp. 300–308, 2013. 

[3] A. D. Henderson, A. C. Asselin-Balençon, M. C. Heller, and Jolliet, Olivier, “Spatial LCA of resource use in agricultural productions: A U.S. case study,” presented at the SETAC North America 34th Annual Meeting, Nashville, TN, USA, Nov-2013. 

[4] C. A. Rotz, M. S. Corson, D. S. Chianese, F. Montes, S. Hafner, H. F. Bonifacio, and C. U. Coiner, “The Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM): Reference Manual Version 4.1,” Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit - Agricultural Research Service - United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC, USA, 2014. 

[5] C. Li, W. Salas, R. Zhang, C. Krauter, A. Rotz, and F. Mitloehner, “Manure-DNDC: a biogeochemical process model for quantifying greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from livestock manure systems,” Nutr. Cycl. Agroecosystems, vol. 96, pp. 163–200, May 2012.

Demonstrating the effect of diet on the carbon footprint of a Canadian dairy scenario using whole-systems analysis and the Holos model: corn silage vs. alfalfa silage

ABSTRACT. The effect of diet on enteric methane production in dairy cattle diets is well studied.1,2 While we know the largest contributor to the on-farm carbon footprint of milk is enteric methane, the impacts of diet on the overall, on-farm carbon foot print of milk production are less widely known.3 Before recommending a feeding strategy for greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation, it is important to conduct a holistic assessment of all related emissions, ranging from those arising from feed production, digestion of these feeds, managing the resulting manure, and other on-farm production processes and inputs. The impact of diet on milk yield and composition must also be assessed.

Using a whole-systems approach, the Holos model,4 and experimentally measured data, this study compares the effects of corn silage vs. alfalfa silage based diets on GHG estimates in a simulated Canadian dairy production system, based in the province of Quebec. A previous study demonstrates that feeding a corn silage based diet reduces enteric methane by 10% based on a percentage of gross energy intake as compared to an alfalfa silage based diet.4 Accounting for enteric and manure methane, cropping/ soil and manure nitrous oxide (direct and indirect), and energy and lime application carbon dioxide, preliminary model results demonstrate that overall farm GHG emissions are reduced by over 10% with the corn silage based diet. Total farm area required to grow the required feed is also reduced.

However, the whole-system results will demonstrate the impact of diet choice on overall net farm GHG emissions as the effects of diet choice on soil carbon change must also be assessed. The comparison of ammonia emissions associated with the diets is also important. Results are expressed with the functional units of kg of fat and protein corrected milk, kg of live-weight of meat, kg of protein, and MJ of energy. The system boundary is at the farm-gate. The choice of allocation between milk and meat functional units is also assessed.

This study serves to reinforce the essential need to utilize the whole-systems or life cycle approach instead of focussing on single elements of a farm system without investigating interrelated effects of management choices. Reported GHG reduction factors cannot be simply combined as effects of farm management transfer through the entire system, sometimes with counter-intuitive effects. It is necessary to apply this whole-systems approach before implementing changes in management intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve sustainability.

Keywords: dairy farm, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, life cycle assessment, carbon footprint, mitigation

1 Boadi, D., C. Benchaar, J. Chiquette and D. Massé. 2004. Mitigation strategies to reduce enteric methane emissions from dairy cows: Update review. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 84: 319–335.

2 Beauchemin, K.A., M. Kreuzer, F. O’Mara, and T.A. McAllister. 2008. Nutritional management for enteric methane abatement: A review. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48: 21-27.

3 Mc Geough, M.J., S.M. Little, H.H. Janzen, T.A. McAllister, S.M. McGinn and K.A. Beauchemin. 2012. Life-cycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from dairy production in Eastern Canada: A case study. Journal of Dairy Science 95: 5164-5175.

4 Little, S., K. Beauchemin, H. Janzen, R. Kroebel and K. Maclean. 2013. Holos – A tool to estimate and reduce greenhouse gases from farms. Methodology and Algorithms for Version 2.0. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 104 pgs.

5 Hassanat, F., R. Gervais, C. Julien, D.I. Massé, A. Lettat, P.Y. Chouinard, H.V. Petit, and C. Benchaar. 2013. Replacing alfalfa silage with corn silage in dairy cow diets: Effects on enteric methane production, ruminal fermentation, digestion, N balance, and milk production. Journal of Dairy Science 96: 4553-4567.

A cost-effectiveness approach to comparative life cycle assessment of agricultural production systems: The case of rice cultivation using a fertilizer derived from brewing by-products

ABSTRACT. Many functional materials have been developed using food by-products and applied as agricultural inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. Since the purpose of the application is to establish sustainable agricultural production systems, life cycle assessment (LCA) will play an important role in judging whether the application contributes to sustainability. Actually, environmental impacts of organic fertilizers made from animal manure, for example, have been analyzed using the framework of comparative LCA of agricultural production systems [1].

However, there is room to take advantage of the problem characteristics: application of the material affects crop yields and environmental impacts, which can be depicted as a simple influence diagram. Therefore, we integrated cost-effectiveness measures with comparative LCA in order to clearly support the decision whether to use the material. A rice production system using a fertilizer made from yeast cell wall extract, a by-product of beer brewing, was compared with a conventional rice production system.

The framework can be illustrated using land-oriented expression [2], in which performance of production systems is depicted in a coordinate with yields per area (horizontal axis) and environmental impacts per area (vertical axis). In contrast to conventional comparative LCA, in which degrees between two lines (horizontal lines and lines connecting the origin and each point for production systems) are compared, we pay attention to incremental production costs (an input) and incremental yields and environmental impacts (outputs to measure effectiveness). The word “incremental” is based on the usage in economic evaluation [3] and is different from “marginal” in LCA [4]. On the basis of the framework, we will discuss cost-effectiveness (∆yield/∆cost and ∆environmental impact/∆cost) and trade-offs between productivity and environmental impacts (∆environmental impact/∆yield).

The results can be summarized as follows: ∆GHG/∆cost (∆GHG=incremental increase of greenhouse gas emissions) increased slightly, although the result was dependent on inventory modelling (system expansion or allocation); ∆yield/∆cost increased drastically; and these results can be connected to the small trade-off rate between the two outputs (∆GHG/∆yield), which implies the performance measured on GHG emissions per product unit was improved. The framework can be extended to include working hours (an input) and revenue (an output).


[1] Martinez-Blanco, J., Munoz, P., Anton, A. and Rieradevall, J. (2011). Assessment of tomato Mediterranean production in open-field and standard multi-tunnel greenhouse, with compost or mineral fertilizers, from an agricultural and environmental standpoint. Journal of Cleaner Production, 19, 985-997. [2] Hayashi, K. (2013). Practical recommendations for supporting agricultural decisions through life cycle assessment based on two alternative views of crop production: the example of organic conversion. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 18, 331-339. [3] Drummond, M.F., Sculpher, M.J., Torrance, G.W., O’Brien, B.J. and Stoddart, G.L. (2005). Methods for the Economic Evaluation of Health Care Programmes, Third Edition. Oxford University Press, New York. [4] Weidema, B.P, Frees, N. and Nielsen, A.M. (1999). Marginal production technologies for life cycle inventories. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 4, 48-56.

AgBalance Farm - from socio-economic LCA to farm management
SPEAKER: Markus Frank

ABSTRACT. Life Cycle Assessment has proved capable to reveal the key drivers of sustainable agriculture and thus to serve as a guardrail for improvement strategies (Frank et al. 2012). However, the translation of the results of LCA studies into on-farm decision support has mostly failed. Here, we present the concept AgBalance Farm that uses key learnings of socio-economic LCA studies for the development web-based crop management support applications for farmers. Soybean production in India was selected as a test case. India is the fifth largest producer of soybean in the world but soybean yields currently reach only half the global average of 2.4mt/ha. Lack of knowledge about good farming practices comprises the key reasons for the low productivity. Through the training program ‘Samruddhi’ (Sanskrit for ‘prosperity’), farmers are educated not only on the timely usage of crop protection in-puts, but also about correct fertilization, seed rate and spacing to enable higher yields (GIZ 2013). While the contribution of Samruddhi to the profitability of the Indian soybean farmers had been shown (PWC 2013), its contribution to the sustainability of the production was largely unknown (Voeste 2012). Against this background, a holistic socio-economic life cycle assessment using AgBalanceTM methodology was conducted, comparing soybean production under ‘Samruddhi’ and ‘non-Samruddhi’ in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The AgBalanceTM revealed that the ‘Samruddhi’ production practice outperfomed ‘non-Samruddhi’ in all three dimensions of sustainability. Based upon this AgBalanceTM study, 12 sustainability indicators with a substantial impact on the study result were selected. Through regression analysis of data sets of approx. 100 individual farmers, mathematical functions describing the interdependencies between the respective indicators were derived, e.g. between yield and nutrient management. A web-based application was generated in order to conduct scenario analysis interactively, which can be used by farmers or technical advisors to help soybean farmers optimizing their production protocol towards higher yield, profitability and sustainability. With this “AgBalance Farm” strategy, we aim to effectively use the potential of socio-economic LCA to support crop management decisions of individual smallholder farmers.

10:00-10:30Coffee Break
10:30-12:00 Session 12A: Biofuels 2: Bio-Energy & Bio-Products

Technologies based upon biogenic storage of carbon, bio-energy or bio-products have been proposed as mitigators of climate change. Life Cycle Assessment may facilitate the quantification of the environmental impacts and potential climate benefits of these technologies and products. However, significant methodological challenges remain.  We discuss these in this session.

Key Discussion Points:

  1. Determining the climate benefits of biogenic storage of carbon
  2. Optimizing the contribution of biomass in energy systems
  3. Understanding the LCAs of energy systems in remote areas
  4. Using LCA to assist research and development of new products
  5. Challenges of conducting LCA
Location: 2311
Consistent quantification of climate impacts due to biogenic carbon storage across a range of bio-product systems

ABSTRACT. Temporary and permanent carbon storage from biogenic sources is seen as a way to mitigate climate change. The aim of this work is to illustrate the need to harmonize the quantification of such mitigation across all possible storage pools in the bio- and anthroposphere. We investigate nine alternative storage cases and a wide array of bio-resource pools: from annual crops, short rotation woody crops, medium rotation temperate forests, and long rotation boreal forests. For each feed-stock type and biogenic carbon storage pool, we quantify the carbon cycle climate impact due to the skewed time distribution between emission and sequestration fluxes in the bio- and anthroposphere. Additional consideration of the climate impact from albedo changes in forests is also illustrated for the boreal forest case.When characterizing climate impact with global warming potentials (GWP), we find a large variance in results which is attributed to different combinations of biomass storage and feed-stock systems. The storage of biogenic carbon in any storage pool does not always confer climate benefits: even when biogenic carbon is stored long-term in durable product pools, the climate outcome may still be undesirable when the carbon is sourced from slow-growing biomass feedstock. For example, when biogenic carbon from Norway Spruce from Norway is stored in furniture with a mean life time of 43 years, a climate change impact of 0.08 kg CO2eq per kg CO2 stored (100 year time horizon (TH)) would result. It was also found that when biogenic carbon is stored in a pool with negligible leakage to the atmosphere, the resulting GWP factor is not necessarily −1 CO2eq per kg CO2 stored. As an example, when biogenic CO2 from Norway Spruce biomass is stored in geological reservoirs with no leakage, we estimate a GWP of −0.56 kg CO2eq per kg CO2 stored (100 year TH) when albedo effects are also included. The large variance in GWPs across the range of resource and carbon storage options considered indicates that more accurate accounting will require case-specific factors derived following the methodological guidelines provided in this and recent manuscripts.

Optimizing the use of biomass in national energy systems under current capacities and future energy scenarios – the case of Denmark
SPEAKER: Carl Vadenbo

ABSTRACT. Many countries worldwide have committed to increase the share of renewable energy in their energy systems. Besides harvesting wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal energy, the use of biomass is frequently put forward as an important component to meet these targets. Determining sustainable strategies for utilizing domestic biomass resources requires a holistic perspective to reflect the consequences of, for example, limited availability of agricultural land and the associated competition with the food/feed sector, which in turn may induce land use changes. To identify the environmentally-optimal use of biomass in the Danish energy system, an optimization model based on linear programming was formulated. Key model constraints comprise meeting the annual energy demand, divided into a set of final demand categories (electricity, centralized/decentralized district heating, individual heating, process heat, and various transport services), under current or foreseen (2030) plant capacities, and with limited availability of biomass and agricultural land. Primary bioenergy conversion options include pretreatment for liquid/solid separation (e.g. for manure), direct combustion, bioethanol biorefineries, anaerobic digestion, gasification, and pyrolysis. Options for subsequent utilization include direct use in combined-heat-and-power units or upgrading to higher-quality energy carriers (e.g. biomethane, biodiesel). Conversion efficiencies and environmental performance were derived from detailed biochemical process models combined with LCA data. With the focus here on minimizing the contribution to global warming potential, the results suggest that the largest untapped potential is found among crop residues, sent to direct combustion or bioethanol biorefineries, and through co-digestion of animal manures. About 30-40% of the total energy demand could be covered by domestically-available biomass and other renewables. When energy crops are considered, willow and Miscanthus are highlighted as the best alternatives under Danish conditions. Enforcing a minimum share of 25% renewables in road transport (e.g. simulating a policy constrain) leads to a shift for several biomass substrates from direct combustion to gasification with the syngas subsequently being upgraded to biofuels. Although the optimization model is currently limited to an annual energy balance, not reflecting temporal variations of demand and supply, the results show that it constitutes a powerful tool to systematically identify the optimal utilization strategies for a wide range of biomass substrates.

Life cycle assessment of wood pellet consumption for residential heating in southeast Alaska

ABSTRACT. This research evaluates several scenarios for southeast Alaska pellet use for residential heating. A life cycle assessment (LCA) was conducted comparing wood pellets imported to southeast Alaska versus being locally produced. This cradle-to-grave LCA compared carbon release differences between imported wood pellets, locally produced pellets, locally produced cordwood, and refined fuel oil. We compared 5 scenarios, including current fuel use (close to 0 percent pellets), as well as 20, 40, and 100 percent wood pellet penetration into the refined fuel oil heating market. Cordwood use for residential heating was assumed to remain constant for all comparisons. Eight communities within southeast Alaska were evaluated, ranging in population from less than 1,000 to more than 30,000. This research found that global warming potential (in terms of CO2 equivalent) was lowered for all substitution scenarios using woody biomass, when compared to the case of 100 percent fuel oil. At 20 percent wood pellet substitution, the scenario of importing pellets from the continental U.S. differed from the scenario of locally produced pellets by only 3 percent (in terms of reduced global warming potential). At the 100 percent substitution level, CO2 emissions were reduced by 74 percent when considering locally produced pellets and 54 percent when considering imported pellets (both versus heating oil). The infrastructure necessary to establish a pellet market in southeast Alaska will likely be the largest hurdle in establishing a viable pellet industry, serving regional markets. Further, lack of wood drying facilities and adverse weather conditions can create unique challenges for southeast Alaska. An estimated 43,492 bone dry tons of biomass are available on Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska, close to the amount required under the scenario of 20 percent substitution (estimated to be 44,761 bone dry tons). However resource use is still an outstanding issue in southeast Alaska, and estimating future timber harvest and the availability of material suitable for energy has large uncertainties. The results of this study strongly indicate the environmental advantage of increase use of wood based biofuels in southeast Alaska for residential heating in terms of life cycle CO2 reductions. Environmental benefits can be further enhanced when wood fuel is produced within southeast Alaska markets versus transported from the continental U.S. by water. Although this research focused primarily on carbon impacts, there are several other environmental benefits associated with fuel substitutions, including smog, respiratory effects, and ozone depletion.

LCA Camelina Adhesive, an Emerging BioProduct and the Difficulties Associated with Evaluating a Product Yet-to-Be

ABSTRACT. In 2012, a Kansas State University-led research team was awarded $5.08 million to study the oilseed, camelina, with the overall research goal to promote development of camelina as a cost-effective bio-based product feedstock. The research team is building a foundation to help make oilseeds, such as camelina, a better resource for biofuels, chemicals and bioproducts, while also minimizing negative impacts on food crop systems and the environment. To achieve the research goals, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is being used to conduct preliminary assessments of three types of adhesives made from defatted camelina meal. Defatted meal is the carbohydrate and protein material after oil is removed from the camelina seed.

The LCA includes research of farming practices, including rotation of camelina with wheat crops instead of leaving fields fallow between wheat crop rotations. The LCA also includes crushing and extracting oil to produce the defatted camelina meal, process design data for commercial-scale manufacturing of camelina adhesives, application of adhesive to plywood and final disposal.

This project highlights the difficulties of using LCA to evaluate a product system not yet developed. Manufacturing data, information about material losses during manufacturing, and product economic profiles do not yet exist. The team has improved upon existing farm machinery and fertilizer data in existing LCA datasets, making these data more representative of actual use in the United States. For the not-yet-in-existence manufacturing facilities, the LCA model is set up to replace research data with actual manufacturing data, whenever such data may exist. To date, we have moved from laboratory, to pilot-scale, to modelled commercial-scale manufacturing data for the adhesive manufacturing. The journey has been interesting and enlightening.

10:30-12:00 Session 12B: Special Session: Cultivating uniform methods for prospective LCA of emerging technologies- A Round Table Discussion

The growing application of Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) for emerging technologies is a promising strategy to help guide innovation towards a more sustainable future. However, anticipating the future is inherently uncertain and emerging technologies can cover a wide range of opportunities. Increasingly, R&D researchers are asked to estimate future benefits from emerging technologies in addition to performing technology R&D. In the absence of a uniform method and guidelines, prospective LCA may yield inconsistent estimates, making it difficult to verify or compare results between similar technologies or across a wide range of technology categories. Prospective LCA of emerging technologies will benefit from uniform, consistent, and robust frameworks for estimating future impacts.

In this special session, we will start with a high level discussion on the need for uniformity, consistency, and robustness when assessing emerging and advanced technology adoption potential. We will briefly discuss our efforts to develop transparent and verifiable LCA methods, and its use in evaluating technologies. Several individual presentations, by either the session organizers or invited industry LCA practitioners, will look at prospective LCAs of emerging technologies such additive manufacturing, wide bandgap semiconductors, vehicle light-weighting, and waste-heat recovery technologies. This will lead into a round-table discussion.

Location: 2309
Cultivating Uniform Methods for Prospective LCA of Emerging Technologies
SPEAKER: Joe Cresko
Cultivating Uniform Methods for Prospective LCA of Emerging Technologies
SPEAKER: Angela Fisher
Cultivating Uniform Methods for Prospective LCA of Emerging Technologies
SPEAKER: Rich Helling
Cultivating Uniform Methods for Prospective LCA of Emerging Technologies
10:30-12:00 Session 12C: Methods 6: Contemporary LCA Topics & Studies

As life cycle professionals, we often are busy with our daily job duties and can have little time to keep abreast of the LCA studies published and new methodologies and innovative solutions to overcome the limitations of LCA. In this session, hear from four speakers presenting papers that tackle various important LCA topics; 1) a methodology on partial disclosure of LCA data; 2) critical review and a simplified approach of temporal LCAs; 3) estimating environmental load/contribution structure in packaged food industry through LCA of retort pouch curry; and 4) LCA of chemical and organic fertilization in cactus production. These topics will improve our understanding of hot LCA topics and methodologies. We hope you can join us for an interactive and engaging session on these exciting topics.

Key Discussion Points:

  1. How easy it is for LCA practitioners to learn and utilize the obfuscation methodologies and produce parametric inventory models in order to achieve a partial disclosure?
  2. Is there a tool to allow the evaluation of results and sufficiently disguise confidential information from back or reverse calculations?
  3. How robust are the temporal (dynamic) LCA results? And how can a simplified approach make them consistent, understandable and meaningful?
  4. Should more temporal (dynamic) LCAs be conducted by organizations?
  5. What are the key learnings and limitation of the cactus cladode production LCA? Can the results be generalized fir organic and chemical fertilizers?
  6. What is the importance of environmental load estimation? And how can the learnings from the retort pouch curry study be used in life cycle thinking strategies? And how will the PWMI use these learnings in order to express contributions while maintaining the quality or freshness of the food content?



Location: 2306
Partial Disclosure: Balancing Confidentiality and Transparency in LCA Publishing

ABSTRACT. Private companies reporting LCA results must always balance their desire to publish environmental performance data against their need to protect the privacy of confidential information. Usually this is accomplished by "rolling up" private data sets with background data to prevent reverse-engineering. However, the usefulness of rolled up data is highly limited because there is no way to determine analytically the scope of background data and the system boundary assumptions used by the authors, or to make parametric modifications of the data sets. There is also no way to validate the system model or verify the accuracy of results.

In practice, companies are willing to disclose certain properties of their model but not others, often in a written report. However, it is challenging to express these details computationally. Analysts wishing to make use of published results are required to interpret and manually reproduce models from documentation. This makes the comparison of results from different studies arduous and error-prone.

We present an LCA study description and publication strategy that may be used to represent study design precisely in terms of private and non-private components. We consider how graph anonymization techniques drawn from social network analysis could be used to obfuscate the contents of the public portion of the model, thereby protecting the contents of the private portion.

Using this strategy would require making assurances to both sides of the obfuscation: the company must be sure that its private data are protected, and the analyst must be sure that the obfuscated model bears some reflection of reality, i.e. that the company's obfuscated model is not grossly misrepresentative. We discuss conditions that can be placed on the obfuscated model that could ensure both requirements are satisfied. This technique can be used by individual firms to publish more useful parametric inventory models that retain confidentiality; by trade groups that wish to establish a standard for member companies to submit mutually consistent data sets; and by public database maintainers that seek richer contributions from data providers.

Temporal life cycle assessment: critical review and a simplified approach
SPEAKER: Chris Mutel

ABSTRACT. Submitted as a presentation to LCA XV Vancouver, Canada 6-8 October 2015

Temporal (dynamic) life cycle assessment has been a hot topic in recent years, and a new methodology appears seemingly every few months. In the first half of this presentation, I present a critical review of existing temporal calculation methodologies and case studies, including several papers from 2014 and 2015. I highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each of the proposed approaches, including computational complexity, data availability, interaction between inventory and impact assessment, and result applicability. A core set of desired properties for temporal LCA is extracted from this comparison. As temporal LCA frequently requires new software development, I also review and discuss several lessons from generally accepted software practice, such as the value of simplicity.

I then present a new methodology for simple temporal LCA, using convolution but without a fixed time scale. Characterization factors can be static, spread their impact over time (e.g. radiative forcing factors), or even be dynamically calculated as a function of emission time and year. This methodology is operationalized in the open source software package temporalis [1], which builds on the Brightway2 LCA framework [2]. Using case studies of individual transport and glulam production linked to the ecoinvent 2.2 database, I show how this new methodology can realize most of the desired properties of temporal LCA, while still being relatively easy to both calculate and understand. I show how the new methodology can be used with dynamic inventories and characterization factors. The case study calculations can be done in real-time and in a reproducible and transparent way using an online scientific notebook during the presentation.

This presentation was supported by SCCER Mobility.

[1] [2]

Estimating Environmental Load throgh Total Life Cycle of Retort Pouch Curry
SPEAKER: Akihiro Izumi

ABSTRACT. In Japan, it is well known that the use of plastic materials in food packaging meets a variety of packaging needs (protecting contents, enhancing ease of handling, etc.).In this work, we examine instant curry that comes in a retort pouch package and compare the environmental load (energy consumption, CO2 emissions) between the commercial manufacturing of such curry and the cooking of it at home. The result shows that a reduction effect of 0.05 MJ in energy consumption can be achieved by using plastic packaging materials, CO2 emissions, meanwhile, remain about the same.The energy consumption and CO2 emissions for the retort curry were 2.47 MJ/meal and 0.18 kg-CO2/meal, respectively. These results demonstrate that the retort curry consumes 0.05 MJ less energy than homemade curry while the CO2 emissions are approximately the same. We can therefore conclude that the mass-production effect of retort curry helps reduce the load. Environmental load through total life cycle of food produced by mass production and packaged by plastic packaging materials can make it possible to meet with the load through that of homemade food.

LCA Elements for chemical and organic cactus cladode production

ABSTRACT. The aim of the study was to apply LCA to cactus production using two different fertilization sources, chemical and organic. The system limits included all the activities related to cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) cladode production; such as tillage, plantation, fertilization, pest and desease control, irrigation, pruning, harvest, and product transportation. The functional unit was one tonne of harvested cactus cladode. The life cycle inventory inputs were energy, fertilizers, pesticides, water; while the outputs were GHG emissions, harvested cactus cladodes, and leaching. The impact categories were warming global potential (WGP), ozone formation potential (OFP), eutrophication potential (EP), acidification potential (AP), and energy demand (ED). When both technologies were compared, the production using organic fertilization was more environmentally friendly than the one that used chemical fertilizers. Thus, the evaluated impact categories reduction using organic fertilization, compared to the chemical one, were as follows WGP 18.9 %, OFP 11.0 %, EP 18.8 %, AP 11.8 %, and ED 37.5%.

10:30-12:00 Session 12D: Food Industry 2
Location: 2301
Application of life cycle assessment approach to beef production systems in the Canadian prairies with regard to environmental impact and energy use efficiency

ABSTRACT. Native grasslands are important sources of forage for cow-calf production systems in the Canadian Prairie, and at the same time those systems have been identified as the major source of enteric methane in the Canadian livestock sector.1 In an effort to improve productivity and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions alike, numerous grazing management practices including stocking density and grazing season/timing have been proposed. However, as ripple effects from implementing any of these strategies have the potential to counteract the efforts elsewhere, an evaluation of their net impacts on farm GHG emissions and energy use is required. Therefore, the study was aimed to investigate the impact of pasture and grazing managements on the total farm GHG emissions.

A life cycle assessment approach was conducted on a beef production system in Canadian Prairie using Holos model, a whole-farm model based on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change methodology modified for Canadian conditions.2 Data were collected from several sources including long-term grazing studies near Stavely, Alberta initiated in 1949 and Swift current, Saskatchewan initiated in 2000. Component based experimental studies demonstrated that grazing management (e.g., stocking density, grazing season) affected pasture quality and productivity3, carbon sequestration4, soil N2O emissions and NO3 leaching loss5 as well as enteric methane emissions from grazing animals.6 Results from our study demonstrate the impacts of grazing management practices on the net farm emissions and energy use. Results are expressed with a functional unit of kg live and carcass weight as well as ha of land. The system boundary is at the farm gate.

The outcome will further strengthen the application of lifecycle analysis approaches to understand the impacts of management practices on sustainability from a holistic point of view and demonstrate at the same time the need to understand the inter-relationship of processes when assessing agricultural production systems. Furthermore, results will be used for decision-making by producers, producer organization and policy makers.

1Beauchemin, K.A., H.H. Janzen, S.M. Little, T.A. McAllister and S.M. McGinn. 2011. Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from beef production in western Canada - Evaluation using farm-based life cycle assessment. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 166-167: 663-677. 2Little, S.M, K.A. Beauchemin, H.H. Janzen, R. Kroebel and K. Maclean. 2013. Holos – A tool to estimate and reduce greenhouse gases from farms. Methodology and Algorithms for Version 2.0. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 104 pgs. 3Li, C., H. Xiying, D.W. Walter, Z. Mengli and H. Guodong. 2009. Seasonal response of herbage production and its nutrient and mineral contents to long-term cattle grazing on a Rough Fescue grassland. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 132: 32–38. 4Derner, J.D. and G.E., Schuman. 2007. Carbon sequestration and rangelands: A synthesis of land management and precipitation effects. J. Soil Water Cons. 62: 77-85. 5de Klein, C.A.M., L.C. Smith, and R.M. Monaghan. 2006. Restricted autumn grazing to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from dairy pastures in Southland, New Zealand. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 112: 192–199. 6Pinares-Patiño, C.S., P. D’Hour, J.-P. Jouany, C. Martin. 2007. Effects of stocking rate on methane and carbon dioxide emissions from grazing cattle. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ.121: 30–46.

Energy use and life cycle emissions of the global fishing industry
SPEAKER: Robert Parker

ABSTRACT. Seafood is the largest source of animal protein and most heavily traded food commodity globally (1). Over half of the world’s fish and shellfish is produced by wild capture fisheries. A growing body of research has aimed to quantify and compare the life cycle energy use and emissions of fishery and aquaculture supply chains and products [2,3]. A consistent finding of this work has been the overwhelming influence of fuel consumption rates by fishing vessels, which can vary dramatically between fisheries targeting different species, employing different fishing gears, and operating in different environments.

This research combines energy and LCA findings with a global fisheries catch database to estimate worldwide fuel use and related emissions, track changes in efficiency since 1990, and map the relative performance of the global fishing fleet by country and fishing sector.

Globally, the marine fishing industry is estimated to consume 37 billion litres of fuel and has a life cycle carbon footprint of 150 million tonnes CO2e up to the point of landing, an average of 1.9 kg CO2e per kg fish. This ranges from less than 0.4 kg CO2e/kg in many small pelagic fisheries (anchovies, herrings, etc.), to over 10 kg CO2e/kg in some crustacean fisheries. This is reflected in national fleets targeting lobster and shrimp species, such as that of Australia, having a much larger carbon footprint than those primarily targeting small pelagic species, including Chile, Peru, and, to a lesser extent, the United States. The role of fisheries in the context of sustainable food production and consumption, potential drivers of efficiency improvement, and economic and policy implications for the industry moving forward, are discussed.

FAO, 2014. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2014. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization.

Vázquez-Rowe, I., Hopsido, A., Moreira, M.T., Feijoo, G., 2012. Best practices in life cycle assessment implementation in fisheries: Improving and broadening environmental assessment for seafood production systems. Trends Food Sci. Tech. 28(2), 116-131.

Avadí, A., Fréon, P., 2012. Life cycle assessment of fisheries: A review for fisheries scientists and managers. Fish. Res. 143, 21-38.

Increasing Sustainability of Pig Production by Changing Pig Diets
SPEAKER: Jasmina Burek

ABSTRACT. Livestock production is one of the major causes of the world's environmental impacts including agricultural land use, water, and climate change impact. The cradle-to-grave pig production and consumption life cycle assessment (LCA) showed that 50% of greenhouse gases originate from feed ingredients in the US (Thoma et al. 2011). Feed account for 70% of all costs in pig production. Thus, to improve the sustainability of pig production it is necessary to increase the sustainability of pig diets. The main goal of this research is to develop cost-effective and environmentally sound pig diets in the US. The sustainable diets need to satisfy several criteria including efficient animal nutrition, cost, feed availability, and sustainable pig production practice. The modelling of sustainable pig diets includes three models: a diet formulation model, pig growth model, and cradle-to-market pig LCA model of pig production. Different diet formulations are compared using the multi-criteria analysis. To ensure robust and comprehensive multi-objective analyses models include regional feed availability, regional environmental footprints and costs, different pig production practices, variation of maximum inclusion rates, and maximum amounts of synthetic amino acids. The single-objective modeling of average US pig diets proposed feed ingredients that hold potential to reduce one or multiple environmental footprints. For example, least cost pig diets include wheat, corn dried distillers grain, and sorghum. Least carbon footprint pig diets include wheat, wheat middlings, soybeans, soybean hulls, and molasses. Least water footprint pig diets include peas, canola meal, flaxseed meal, barley, alfalfa meal, and feather meal. Least land use pig diets include corn DDG, rice bran, corn gluten feed, molasses, and feather meal. This suggests that the solution to increase sustainability of pig production in the US is diversification of feed ingredients (protein and energy).

Low-Carbon Urban Lettuce
SPEAKER: Isaac Emery

ABSTRACT. Community gardens and the local food movement are frequently touted as key ways to conserve water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But can using compost and rainwater and substantially reduce resource use?

To evaluate the effectiveness of storing urban rainwater, recycling nutrients through composting, and supplying food locally, we used life cycle assessment to compare the greenhouse gas emissions of supplying lettuce to customers in Seattle with either conventionally grown lettuce from central California or with lettuce grown in a local community garden.

Conventional Californian lettuce produces 0.5 to 0.7 kg CO2-equivalent emissions per kg of lettuce, depending on truck fuel efficiency during transportation to Seattle. Transportation and water supply are the major contributors to emissions. By using compost fertilizer produced from waste that would otherwise have gone to a landfill, locally-grown urban lettuce may sequester up to 0.35 kg of emissions. Less water is necessary for lettuce grown in Seattle as well.

Closing the nutrient loop has many benefits, including lower greenhouse gas emissions. By using material that would otherwise go to waste, urban farms and gardens can substitute plentiful local resources for distant, costly industrial processes and reduce the demand for water-intensive crops from arid farmland.

12:00-13:30Lunch Break
13:30-15:00 Session 13A: Biofuels 3

Biomass resources represent a renewable carbon and energy source that can be utilized in many ways such as conversion to liquid fuel for transportation, or as a solid, liquid or gaseous fuel for residential heating and cooking. The talks in this session will illustrate the role of LCA as a valuable decision support tool that can help to identify the preferred routes for biomass utilization in a particular geographical region.

Key Discussion Points:

  1. Impact of biofuel conversion efficiency on their LCA outlook
  2. The impact of co-product allocation on the life cycle impact of biofuels
  3. Non-GHG impacts of biomass utilization
  4. Geographic variability in bioenergy LCA outcomes
  5. Social implications of fuel choices that are not considered in LCA


Location: 2311
Life Cycle Energy and Greenhouse Gases Emissions Assessment of Drop-in Biofuel Production in Maine
SPEAKER: Binod Neupane

ABSTRACT. As concerns over climate, energy security and economic development grow, the search for alternative energy sources intensifies. Many alternative energy sources are known today. However, developing liquid fuels that can replace petroleum transportation fuels is particularly challenging. While ethanol from corn is a well-established technology, recent efforts have focused on drop-in biofuels that would be compatible with existing transportation infrastructure. Among biomass feedstocks that have been explored for drop-in biofuels, biomass from forest resources (eg. forest residue) has garnered much support because of its domestic availability and its ability to provide solutions in regard to the issues debated in corn-based ethanol. We assess the energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of an infrastructure compatible drop-in biofuel produced from forest residues via a Thermal DeOxygenation (TDO) pathway, which was developed at the University of Maine. The results are then compared with the conventional petroleum counterpart. The TDO drop-in fuel pathway is an advanced drop-in fuel production technology, which requires a lower quantity of externally supplied hydrogen to upgrade oil to diesel-range fuels. A life cycle assessment model was developed in R-software using TDO process data and data from The Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) model. Results reveal that depending on the bio-char handling scenario, the TDO drop-in diesel shows approximately 68- 118% of GHG reductions compared to that of its conventional diesel counterpart. Similarly, the TDO drop-in diesel has 73-111% less fossil fuel energy consumption in comparison to conventional diesel. We have developed different scenarios to assess the energy and emissions tradeoffs across the fuel supply chain. Our LCA model can be adapted to assess similar technologies and supply chains in other geographic regions.

Ethanologens vs. Acetogens: Environmental impacts of two bioethanol fermentation pathways.
SPEAKER: Erik Budsberg

ABSTRACT. Bioconversion production of bioethanol from cellulosic feedstock is generally proposed to use direct fermentation of sugars to ethanol. Another potential route for ethanol production is fermentation of sugars to acetic acid followed by hydrogenation to convert the acetic acid into ethanol. The advantage of the acetogen pathway is an increased ethanol yield; however, using an acetogen requires the additional hydrogenation, which could substantially affect the life cycle global warming potential of the process. Assuming a poplar feedstock, a cradle to grave Life cycle assessment (LCA) is used to evaluate the environmental impacts of an acetogen based fermentation pathway. An LCA of a fermentation pathway that uses ethanologen fermentation is developed for comparison. It is found that the ethanologen and acetogen pathways have Global Warming Potentials (GWP) that are 97 % and 50 % lower than the GWP of gasoline, respectively. When the absolute GWP reduction compared to gasoline is calculated using a unit of land basis, the benefit of the higher ethanol yield using the acetogen is observed as the two pathways achieve similar GWP savings. The higher ethanol yield in the acetogen process plays a crucial role in choosing a lignocellulosic ethanol production method if land is a limited resource.

Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Cooking Fuel Options in China and India
SPEAKER: Sarah Cashman

ABSTRACT. In both China and India, about half of each country’s population currently uses traditional cookstove fuels and over a million annual premature deaths are attributed to Household Air Pollutants (HAPs). Consumption of these traditional cookstove fuels, e.g., coal and wood, combined with rapid rates of urbanization and industrialization, has contributed to the countries’ resource depletion, deforestation, desertification, and biodiversity loss. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working in collaboration with the United Nation Foundation’s Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) and other international partners to conduct research and provide tools to inform decisions in the clean cookstoves sector in these countries. Toward this end, this study scope includes a life cycle assessment (LCA) comparing the environmental footprint of current and possible fuels used for cooking within China and India.

Detailed LCI profiles for the following cooking fuels in each country have been compiled on the basis of 1 Gigajoule (GJ) of useful energy delivered to and used by consumers: electricity; natural gas; liquefied petroleum gas (LPG); coal; kerosene; biomass (crop residue, dung, charcoal, firewood, wood pellets); biogas; sugarcane ethanol; and dimethyl ether (DME). The profiles for current fuel mix used are compared to scenarios of projected differences in and/or cleaner cookstove fuels. The results for the comparisons are reported by life cycle stage (feedstock production, fuel processing, distribution, and cookstove use) for a suite of relevant life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) mid-point indicators: global climate change, energy demand, fossil depletion, water input, particulate matter formation, acidification, eutrophication and photochemical smog formation.

Data for this study are developed from existing literature and LCI sources. The primary intended use of this study is to provide comparative data to inform policy decisions, i.e., a more holistic analysis of correlations between changes in cookstove fuel scenarios to those in potential local and global environmental impacts. EPA will make these data available to the public in order to support their efforts to improve and facilitate access to data and information on emissions from a wide range of cookstove fuel types and use-scenarios in China and India.

Guide for Sustainable Cookstove Fuel Production, Distribution and Use in Developing Countries
SPEAKER: Sarah Cashman

ABSTRACT. The use of traditional cookstoves in developing countries affects millions of lives on a daily basis with far-reaching health, environmental, and economic impacts. The United Nation Foundation’s Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) is working towards providing access to credible information on cookstove fuel production, distribution and use to facilitate communication of the full impacts of commonly used and potentially cleaner fuels.

The study scope covers fuels for cooking in Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, India, China, Bangladesh, and Guatemala. The focus is fuels currently used in these target countries: ethanol (from sugarcane and sawdust), non-carbonized and carbonized briquettes (from wood, bamboo, and crop residue), biomass pellets, wood chips, whole wood, biogas from anaerobic digestion of organic waste (from crop residues and cattle dung), and LPG stored in canisters.

GACC is completing a comprehensive LCA of these country and fuel combinations by evaluating a suite of environmental impact categories: global climate change, energy demand, water input, black carbon emissions, particulate matter formation, acidification, eutrophication and smog formation. The economic and social impacts of cookstove fuel choices are equally important to the environmental considerations, with economic and social sustainability being imperative to achieve adoption of cleaner fuels. The full life cycle costs, as well as affordability, employment and training, existing infrastructure and trade, and current fuel production and use are assessed. Social indicators covering the potential increase in skills for women, government policies, challenges for distributing fuels, reliability of acquiring fuels, time savings in the household, and the safety of household members are described qualitatively and through case studies.

Data for this study is developed from existing literature sources and extensive communication with GACC’s partner organizations and enterprises within each of the countries. A key project component is to effectively communicate the information collected to a variety of audiences ranging from policy-makers, researchers, enterprises, donors and investors, and others. GACC is doing this through development of a web-based comparative fuel analysis tool. The tool will be publicly accessible via GACC’s website. Access to such data will allow local governments, ground level enterprises, and higher level strategic planners to make informed decisions for transitioning to cleaner and safer fuels that are economically viable and socially responsible.

13:30-15:00 Session 13B: Special Session: LCA Practice and Contributions from the Department of Energy

For the 4th consecutive year, the Department of Energy Labs is hosting a special session on the contribution of the Labs to LCA. 

Increasingly complex energy supply chains, such as those for biomass energy feedstocks and unconventional fossil fuels, require increased attention from scientists, analysts and policy makers to quantify the environmental impacts and identify technology and policy strategies for mitigating those impacts. Throughout the Department of Energy and especially at the National Laboratories, life cycle analysis plays a critical role in informing these complex questions. Further, as taxpayer-funded entities, they exist to serve the public and the research community. In this 4th annual version of this session, representatives from several Department of Energy national laboratories, such as the National Energy Technology Lab, National Renewable Energy Lab, Argonne National Lab, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Brookhaven National Lab and Pacific Northwest National Lab, will highlight some of the recent contributions of their programs, such as meeting DOE and Laboratory goals, addressing challenges or delivering high quality life cycle products. This session will provide a chance for the community to see in a single place and at an overview level, the myriad of LCA efforts happening in the Department of Energy. A panel of these representatives will then take questions and feedback regarding research and data needs from the LCA community.

Location: 2309
Power and Fuels, Renewable and Conventional: Selected Highlights of LCA Activities at NREL
SPEAKER: Garvin Heath

ABSTRACT. For two decades, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has conducted life cycle assessments (LCA) of energy technologies in support of DOE’s goals to ensure America’s prosperity by addressing its energy and environmental challenges. This presentation will highlight results and challenges of recent LCAs at NREL, as well as how traditional LCA methods have been extended to help answer different questions. For instance, we are developing a spatially, temporally and chemically explicit inventory of air pollutant emissions from the life cycle of biofuels grown at the scale required to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2022 based on NREL’s LCA model of biofuels, Billion Ton Study II projections of feedstock production and many other data sources. Resulting air quality and health impacts will be compared to a baseline and business as usual scenario. In a project focused on US thin film photovoltaic manufacturing, we have collaborated to develop a hybrid LCA based on NREL’s detailed manufacturing cost models, including forward-looking road maps for PV and background economy changes, to assess the influence of different factors like dematerialization and efficiency improvements have on changes in life cycle impact metrics. Finally, we have been developing new methods to integrate detailed geospatial and empirical inventories of land occupation by energy infrastructure with estimates of lifetime energy generation to yield highly resolved estimates of life cycle land use with a case study of Barnett Shale natural gas. These are three examples of the several LCAs and similar projects currently being conducted at NREL, along with musings about fertile directions for further research.

The Importance of LCA from R & D through Commercialization

ABSTRACT. The resources the U.S. Department of Energy devotes to developing new technologies and ushering them to commercial-scale success are tied to the goals of energy independence, climate change mitigation, and an improvement in environmental quality. Members of the Sustainable Energy Systems group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conduct life-cycle assessment (LCA) research in collaboration with basic scientists and engineers at each stage of the technology life cycle, from R&D and proof of concept, through pilot projects, commercialization, and maturity. By adding performance metrics such as greenhouse gas footprints, net energy return on investment, water use, and human health damages, this work facilitates more informed design decisions and helps steer research, development, and deployment.

Here we discuss the work done in the Sustainable Energy Systems group through a set of representative case studies: 1) scenario analysis and life-cycle net energy analysis of artificial photosynthesis for large-scale production of hydrogen fuel; 2) greenhouse gas and net energy tradeoffs of drop-in bio-based jet fuel, diesel, and lubricant production via furanic and fermentation routes; 3) greenhouse gas and water use tradeoffs associated with lignin utilization strategies at U.S. cellulosic ethanol production facilities; and 4) scale-up strategies for efficient collection, second life uses, and recycling of automotive Li-ion batteries in California. Through these case studies, we demonstrate that LCA, particularly when combined with scenario analysis and robust uncertainty analysis can highlight unanticipated challenges early on, and help researchers focus on key contributors to improved energy and environmental importance.

The U.S. Department of Energy has dedicated significant resources for large-scale basic and applied research to develop low-carbon technologies in areas ranging from building energy efficiency to advanced batteries to solar energy-to-fuel conversion systems. The technologies evolving out of this research are diverse, but they share a common need for analytical methods that can support decision-making by identifying potentially fruitful deployment pathways and by providing early indications of unintended consequences. The Emerging Technology Assessment (ETA) team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is one of the DOE groups conducting early-stage research to better understand the potential impacts of energy technologies long before deployment. The goal of the ETA team and similar research groups is to assess the potential large- scale energy, climate, health, natural resource, and cost impacts of low-carbon technologies under development, highlight promising paths forward, and identify significant barriers that must be overcome to facilitate successful scale-up. Here we assess the methods and outcomes of teams such as ETA, whose members work closely with basic researchers on techno-economic and life-cycle assessments. This research will be discussed in the context of four case studies: 1) an artificial leaf that can provide fuel for transportation using artificial photosynthesis; 2) dynamic windows that use nan-scale switching to reduce building energy footprints; 3) water efficient biofuels that require the selection and engineering of feedstocks that thrive in dry climates; and 4) carbon dioxide management based on a long-term plan for efficient capture, utilization, and sequestration of CO2. Our preliminary research has identified three key challenges: 1) the need to weigh the value of short-term climate change mitigation against the risk of technological lock-in; 2) harnessing renewable energy resources in a changing climate; and 3) understanding how both risk and opportunity depend on the geographical variation of economic, political and environmental conditions.

Life Cycle Analysis of Advanced Transportation and Fuel Technologies

ABSTRACT. Argonne National Laboratory’s Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREETTM) model analyzes the life-cycle impacts of various vehicle-fuel technology combinations. Example fuels in this model are those produced from petroleum and natural gas, electricity, hydrogen, and biofuels including corn and cellulosic ethanol and hydrocarbon drop-in fuels from bio-feedstocks. Vehicle types include conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and battery-powered electric vehicles. GREET outputs are life-cycle energy consumption, air emissions (including greenhouse gases and criteria air pollutants), and water consumption. Energy consumption is separated further into coal, natural gas, and petroleum consumption.

This presentation highlights recent key research at Argonne in the areas of baseline petroleum fuels, biofuels and impacts of vehicle technology improvements. We present updated and expanded LCA results with the inclusion of water consumption and black carbon emissions in GREET. We also review the treatment of soil organic carbon changes upon land transitions in GREET and present results from analysis of the influence of soil carbon depletion mitigation techniques including cover crops and manure application. We reiterate the importance of data quality, transparency of methodology (including treatment of co-products), and accounting for uncertainty in LCA.

Overview of Energy Life Cycle Analysis at NETL
SPEAKER: Tim Skone

ABSTRACT. Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of energy technology and policy options requires the comparison of those options on a common basis, which includes not only the impacts of converting fuel to useful energy, but of infrastructure construction, extraction and transportation of fuel, and transport of the final energy product to the end user. Further, environmental costs and benefits must be weighed against economic analyses with identical boundaries. At the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, life cycle analysis (LCA) is used as tool and framework for performing these types of evaluations. This overview will describe the LCA process at NETL, including unique application of stochastic methods to environmental and economic analyses, and show highlights from several recent studies such as a complete inventory of natural gas extraction, and a comparison of advanced power technology options.

13:30-15:00 Session 13C: Special Session: Life Cycle Assessment and Alternatives Assessment Workshop

Product stewardship pressures are increasing, requiring more holistic response to optimize commercial, compliance, and communal benefit.  Companies want to produce products that do not pose risks to their consumers or society while eliminating substitution remorse.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Alternatives Assessment are well-aligned in their lifecycle approach, but in order to meet the demands of chemical substitution rules, alternatives assessment can learn from LCA’s systematic approach. Drawing from established guidelines and collaborative systems, alternative assessment can leverage LCA to improve product portfolio risk management and determine “what matters” for not only hazards and exposures, but social and economic implications as well.

This workshop intends to facilitate interactive discussion and best practice sharing amongst LCA practitioners, alternatives assessment experts, and industry leaders.  Alternatives assessment experts and industry leaders will present brief presentations on their experiences with alternatives assessment to facilitate discussions on how the LCA community can support alternatives assessment and improve the use of LCA in alternatives assessment.

The results of the discussions will be used to develop a paper to be presented at the next year’s conference.

Location: 2306
Introduction and Current State of Alternatives Assessment

ABSTRACT. An introduction to Alternatives Assessment drivers, compliance issues, and current practices drawing upon Liz’s 26 years of experience in quantitative risk assessment, environmental compliance, and public health. This presentation will also provide an overview of the current state of alternatives assessment in the United States and in particular the state of California.

Filling Alternatives Assessment’s Gaps to Provide Guidance to Industry

ABSTRACT. A review of the current gaps and needed guidance for industry in Alternatives Assessment drawing upon Mike’s expertise with the California EPA Department of Toxic Substance Control's original Green Ribbon Science Panel, Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute Governing Board, and the ANSI Chemicals Network. This presentation will also provide specific examples from Mike’s 20 years of experience in the electronics industry.

Life Cycle Assessment as a Green Chemistry Tool and in Conjunction with Alternative Assessments
SPEAKER: Doug Mazeffa

ABSTRACT. A review of an application of life cycle assessment (LCA) for assessing alternative chemicals. This presentation will also provide key challenges and specific Sherwin-Williams Case Studies utilizing LCA In alternatives assessment.

13:30-15:00 Session 13D: Food Industry 3
Location: 2301
Analysis of the Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emission Implications of Distributing and Refrigerating Beverages
SPEAKER: Bobby Renz

ABSTRACT. The environmental implications of upstream production and end-of-life management of beverage containers is fairly well-understood in the literature. However, less attention has been dedicated to investigating use-phase impacts from beverage containers. The authors sought to examine greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy consumption during the use phase of beverage packaging products to determine differences between different use-phase scenarios and identify opportunities to decrease use-phase emissions in the beverage industry. In particular, the study focused on the benefits of packaging space efficiency (i.e., “cube efficiency”) in transportation and refrigeration at distribution. The boundaries of this study include only the energy and GHG emission impacts associated with the use phase of a beverage container through retail purchase, including distribution from container filling facilities to retailers and refrigeration at retail. The analysis assumes that beverages are not the sole reason for a grocery store visit and therefore consumer storage and transport are outside the scope of this study. The functional unit is defined as 1 liter of beverage delivered to the consumer at a retail location. Through a literature review and discussions with industry stakeholders, we developed a simplified model of average distribution and retail practices for aluminium cans sold in supermarkets, small markets/convenience stores, and restaurants in the United States. The transportation analysis assumes a mix of small, medium, and large delivery vehicles using an industry-average fuel mix for freight vehicles, excluding biotic carbon emissions from biofuels. The calculations include a sensitivity analysis to determine the extent to which different factors (i.e., vehicle size, transport distance) influence the per-unit emissions. For an example case involving transport of a 355 mL aluminium soft drink can by large truck to a convenience store, transportation emissions after bottling are estimated to be 49 g CO2e per liter of soft drink (gCO2e/L) and refrigeration emissions are estimated to be 72 gCO2e/L. The total use-phase emissions of 129 gCO2e/L for an aluminium soft drink can are estimated to comprise roughly 25-27% of the total cradle-to-grave GHG emissions from an aluminium can, depending on the recycling assumption. This is a substantial fraction of life-cycle impacts and the results of this analysis demonstrate that space efficiency in both transportation after bottling and refrigeration at distribution is an instrumental driver in the use-phase energy consumption and GHG emissions. These preliminary results add further insight into GHG emissions from the often overlooked use phase of the beverage container life-cycle. This study highlights opportunities to increase the sustainability of the beverage supply chain by increasing efficiencies during the use-phase of the beverage life cycle.

Demonstration of the Environmental Interplay between Food Waste and Food Packaging via Life Cycle Assessment
SPEAKER: Martin Heller

ABSTRACT. Food packaging has long served a role in protecting and preserving both perishable and shelf-stable foods, but sustainability efforts aimed at reducing the environmental impact of packaging often overlook this critical role. Food waste – food which is produced but not eaten – can represent a significant fraction of the food life cycle’s overall environmental burden. This presents an important research question: are investments in resources and associated emissions due to increased or improved packaging technologies beneficial from an environmental standpoint if they contribute to reductions in food waste? Using an LCA model developed with specific attention to food waste effects, we will evaluate a number of alternative food packaging scenarios for three cases: fresh beef, fresh and frozen fish, and salad mixes. The functional unit will be a mass of food consumed. While food waste throughout the supply chain will be considered, the differentiation between scenarios will focus on waste during distribution and retail, drawing from empirical data from food retailers and industry representatives. Preliminary results suggest that modified atmosphere packaging of fresh beef leads to net greenhouse gas emission (GHGE) savings due to food waste reductions, when compared to common tray and overwrap packaging. On the other hand, while modified atmosphere bagging of salad mix reduces food waste, it is not sufficient to overcome the GHGE from manufacturing of the packaging. Including water use impacts in the salad mix case further demonstrates the complexity of food waste/food packaging trade-offs. Demonstration of the interplay between packaging and food waste can assist designers in redefining packaging sustainability optimization strategies to include the whole product/package system. The results presented here also highlight the important role that packaging plays in reducing food waste.

Food carbon fate beyond consumption

ABSTRACT. The treatment of biogenic carbon released from human food products at End-of-Life (EoL) in LCA is a topic that has not been well addressed in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) literature, but it could have measurable impacts on a product’s full life-cycle Global Warming Potential (GWP). Many human food LCAs do consider the consumption phase of food product in terms of the disposal of packaging, amount of wasted food or washing of utensils associated with food, but they do not consider the impacts of the actual consumption, digestion and excretion of the food by humans as part of the EoL. Therefore, the fate of the biogenic carbon stored in the food is not accounted for at EoL (see reference links below). We endeavor to track and quantify the emissions of biogenic carbon (as carbon dioxide or methane) through the full EoL of food products. Based on a variety of recently released studies on the carbon content of the human body and the fate of carbon from wastewater treatment, we were able to discern that approximately 5% of ingested carbon will be released as methane. When combined with the current IPCC characterization factors for methane emissions, this represents roughly 40% of the EoL phase GWP100 and about 65% of the EoL phase’s GWP20. Depending on the GWP from a product’s production and use phase emissions, this could represent a significant contribution to the product’s life cycle GWP. Alternatively, these calculations could demonstrate that the EoL GWP of the product does not significantly change the overall GWP caused by the food product. We will share how this method of including EoL could impact the results of a food LCA on protein sources and other foods (potentially reference our work with a currently confidential client) with the real-world example.

Comparing environmental and nutritional impacts and benefits of food

ABSTRACT. While there has been considerable effort to understand the environmental impacts of a food or diet, nutritional effects are not usually included in food-related life cycle assessment (LCA). We developed a novel Combined Nutritional and Environmental Life Cycle Assessment framework that evaluates and compares in parallel the environmental and nutritional effects of food items or diets. We applied this framework to assess human health impacts, expressed in Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), in two proof of concept case studies. The first one investigated the environmental and nutritional human health effects associated with the addition of one serving of fluid milk to the present American adult diet. The second focuses on the trade-off between production and pesticide residues impacts associated with fruits and vegetables versus nutritional benefits in the context of the overall European food consumption. Epidemiologically-based nutritional impacts and benefits linked to milk intake and fruits and vegetables consumption, such as colorectal cancer and stroke, were compared to selected environmental impacts traditionally considered in LCA (global warming and particulate matter) carried to a human health endpoint. We found that a fluid milk consumption increase by one serving led to an overall health benefit (i.e., avoided burden of disease mainly attributed to nutritional effects from consumption)that exceeded the induced burden primarily associated with environmental emissions from production. For fruits and vegetables, impacts of pesticide residues are small compared to the environmental benefits of fruits and vegetables, suggesting that once proper environmental policy has been implemented to ban the most harmful pesticides, the priority should be to promote fruit and vegetable consumption and provide affordable supply of these to enable the largest consumption possible. This study provides the first quantitative epidemiological-based estimate of the complements and trade-offs between nutritional and environmental human health burden expressed in DALYs, pioneering the infancy of a new approach in LCA. We recommend further testing of this approach for other food items and diets, especially when making recommendations about sustainable diets and food choices.

15:00-15:30Coffee Break
15:30-17:00 Session 14: Closing Plenary Session

Closing Plenary Session

Location: Great Hall