Comparing three life cycle impact assessment methods from an endpoint perspective

Weidema B P (2014)

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Journal of Industrial Ecology 19(1):20-26


The impact assessment methods Eco-Indicator 99 (H), Stepwise2006, and ReCiPe2008 (H) are compared with respect to the relative and absolute importance that they assign to the different mid-point impact categories. The comparison is done by a common monetary valuation of the three endpoints that are common to the three methods: human well-being, nature, and resources. Land use, global warming, and respiratory inorganic pollutants together make up between 86% and 97% of the overall impacts compared in all three methods. The overall monetarized impacts amount to 30%, 28%, and 165% of the gross domestic product (GDP), respectively. Resource depletion, land use, and global warming explain 99.5% of the positive deviation of ReCiPe2008, relative to the other two methods. The main causes for these differences are investigated and discussed, pointing to possibly questionable calculations and assumptions, for example, regarding the nonsubstitutability of resources and the very long relaxation time for transformed forestland in the relatively new ReCiPe2008 method, which leads us to recommend users to be cautious and critical when interpreting the results. Sensitivity analysis is made for other cultural perspectives and normalization references.

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