Title: Make Biotic Resources count in Life Cycle Assessment
Publisher: European Commission
Publication Year: 2017
JRC N°: JRC109912
URI: http://data.jrc.ec.europa.eu/collection/EPLCA
Type: Datasets
Abstract: The EU's knowledge base that responds to business and policy needs for social and environmental assessments of supply chains and end-of-life waste management, otherwise known as life cycle assessments. The EPLCA consists of different tools and databases including the European Life Cycle Database (ELCD): the International reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook, the Life Cycle Data Network (LCDN) and the LCA Resource Directory (RD) that includes a Reviewer Registry (RR) for LCI dataset reviewers. The ‘Single market for green products communication’ (COM/2013/0196 final) established the Environmental Footprint (EF) (Recommendation 2013/179/EU). Among the recommendations, the International Life Cycle Data (ILCD) system (and related Entry Level requirements – ILCD-EL), developed by JRC since 2007, is enforced as compliance system for Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data development. Within the Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods recommended both in the ILCD and the EF framework, the assessment of resource depletion is taking into account only abiotic resources, such as minerals, metals, fossil energy carriers, etc. Even the recommended elementary flow list, in both schemes, is quite wide on the above-mentioned abiotic resources, but very poor in biotics from natural environment (the bio-based products derived from anthropic activity, such as agriculture or aquaculture, are considered as part of the technosphere and at database level are better identified as product flows, instead of elementary flows). Concerning the renewability of biotic resources, it is not sufficient to consider the availability unlimited, and therefore not critical. For this reason, several authors highlighted the need to integrate in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) the sustainability assessment of “naturally occurring biotic resources” i.e. those resources taken directly from natural environment with no, or very minor, human interactions before the final uptake of the resource itself from the environment. The JRC is in charge to develop and maintain the baseline structure of the database, and particularly the objects that are defined as standards and not modifiable by third parties in the database structure, particularly: Elementary Flows, LCIA methods, etc. In order to create an exhaustive list of elementary flows to be integrated in the current EF (and possibly ILCD) package, the JRC developed a preliminary list of elementary flows, according to the ILCD format, in XML files. The implementation of this list, after a stakeholder consultation, will allow the data developers to capture biotic resource depletion in life-cycle inventories (LCIs), and will allow in the future the creation of an LCIA method, capable of assessing the impacts derived from the use of those resources. This document provides a detailed list of the criteria adopted in the definition of the elementary flow list for biotic resources, and the complete list of flow (excel list and XML package) is also available through the permalinks provided within the document.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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