Yearly archive: 2015

Avoiding “system expansion”?

December 10, 2015 by Marie De Saxcé

When producing a product footprint – or life cycle assessment (LCA) result – we want it as far as possible to be useful for decision support. Therefore, the way we model the product systems should maintain mass, energy and monetary balances intact, fully reflecting physical and economic causalities, based on empirical relations rather than normative assumptions and arbitrary cut-offs. This also implies avoiding allocation (partitioning) of systems with joint production of co-products, since this is an inherently normative procedure that…

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Consequential vs. attributional LCA

November 19, 2015 by Bo Weidema

I often hear (or read) statements like “Attributional LCA is accounting for the total emissions from the processes and material flows used during the life cycle” which shows a lack of understanding for the large parts of the life cycles that are actually ignored in attributional LCA. Attributional LCA uses normative cut-off rules and allocation to isolate the investigated product system from the rest of the World. And by this, it ignores a lot of the physical and economic causalities…

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October 15, 2015 by Bo Weidema

I am really delighted to announce today a new open resource on consequential Life Cycle Assessment modelling: The new website is a collection of examples illustrating how to model consequential product systems in LCA as it is recommended in the ISO 14040 series. It provides free access to information, which is often hidden deep within LCA reports or even left out in brief scientific papers to save space. is a community resource. We hope that the community of…

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Quantifying the social footprint

September 8, 2015 by Bo Weidema

As already described in a previous blog-post on social LCA my first entry into the world of LCA in the early 1990’ies was from a social (fair trade and organic agriculture) perspective. Compared to then, we have now much better data and also better methods for social impact assessment. My role in the development of social LCA has mainly been – and continues to be - to insist on the need and feasibility of a quantitative approach to measuring social pressures…

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A new wastewater initiative

July 28, 2015 by Ivan Muñoz

Chemicals are ubiquitous. They are needed, directly or indirectly, for all products and services. In consumer products in particular, very often the fate of chemicals after consumer use is to be sent down the drain to municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). In these plants typically they are subject to biological treatments leading to their degradation, and to the discharge of the degradation products to the environment. However different chemicals behave differently in WWTPs, depending on their physical- chemical properties and…

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Harnessing the End-of-Life Formula

May 21, 2015 by Bo Weidema

The so-called End-of-Life formula has received a lot of attention lately. Currently, public commenting is open for the first “Environmental footprint” pilot drafts that use the 50:50 End-of-Life formula of the EU PEF Guideline (EU 2013). The End-of-Life formula is an attempt at dividing the benefit of recycling between the suppliers of scrap and the users of scrap. The 50:50 formula divides this benefit equally between the two. The main criticism of the formula is that this does not reflect…

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Party spoiler

April 23, 2015 by Bo Weidema

In what was announced as a celebration of the first 3 LCA guidelines for feed, small ruminants and poultry ( ) of the FAO LEAP Partnership, I had to play the role of the party spoiler. Practically all the speakers talked about how these new guidelines would allow the identification of hotspots and options for improvement. At the same time it was made quite clear that the guidelines are for attributional LCA, explicitly excluding consequential modelling. Therefore I had to…

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Disentangling E P&L and Natural Capital Accounting

March 4, 2015 by Bo Weidema

Results from lifecycle based environmental assessment are increasingly being expressed through the use of economic terminology. Every second year a new buzzword takes the stage. In this blog-post I try to provide some clarification on two recent buzzwords: E P&L (Environmental Profit & Loss account) and NCA (Natural Capital Accounting). In 2011, PUMA (the shoe-maker) launched their E P&L, a practice that was followed by several others, including Novo Nordisk and the Danish Fashion Industry. The intention is to complement…

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