2 Mai 2012

Understanding life cycle assessment is vital to the success of green businesses

Illustrative case studies represents the political implications of the allocation procedure on several bio-based products within an LCA system

NNFCC and North Energy publish new report, which calls on policy makers and businesses to improve their understanding of how life cycle assessment (LCA) results vary according to the methodology used and how this can have a major impact on business decisions.

“LCA’s are growing in importance both in terms of helping businesses deliver more efficient products and for policy makers looking to account for greenhouse gas emissions and energy balances,” said Dr Adrian Higson, Head of Biorefining at NNFCC.

“However, wider understanding of how LCA methodologies differ is still lacking and there is an urgent need for more training on the implications this may have to market development in the green economy,” he adds.

The way we measure the energy balances and greenhouse gas emissions from biorenewables – like biofuels and bio-based chemicals – can be complex and requires careful interpretation.

Using illustrative case studies from published and rigorous studies, NNFCC and North Energy demonstrate the policy implications of allocation procedure on multiple bio-based products within an LCA system.

LCA’s based on substitution credits are shown to be sensitive to how co-products are processed and to the co-product end use. LCA’s based on
percentage allocation are independent of co-product processing and the co-products end market.

A substitution credit based methodology will therefore drive towards low energy input processes for all products whereas percentage allocation procedures will drive towards low energy input processes for the primary product only, says the report.

The report recommends environmental performance of biorenewables should be assessed on a case by case basis; using consistent logic but tailored to their intended purpose, and this must be communicated to a broader audience so that the reasons for any differences in results are clearly understood.

Understanding LCA’s is the subject of a two-day training workshop to be held in York on 16-17 May 2012, for more information and to register visit www.nnfcc.co.uk

Source: NNFCC, Press Release, 2012-05-02.

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