Title: Accounting for the occupation of the marine environment as a natural resource in life cycle assessment: an exergy based approach
Authors: TAELMAN Sue EllenDE MEESTER StevenSCHAUBROECK ThomasSAKSHAUG EgilALVARENGA Rodrigo A.f.DEWULF JO
Citation: RESOURCES CONSERVATION AND RECYCLING vol. 91 p. 1-10
Publisher: ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
Publication Year: 2014
JRC N°: JRC90709
ISSN: 0921-3449
URI: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921344914001529
http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC90709
DOI: 10.1016/j.resconrec.2014.07.009
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The human population is rising and the availability of terrestrial land and its resources are finite and, perhaps, not sufficient to deliver enough food, energy, materials and space. Thus, it is important to (further) explore and exploit the marine environment which covers no less than 71% of the earth’s surface. The marine environment is very complex but can roughty be divided into two systems: natural (e.g. wild fishing) and human-made (e.g. artificial islands). In this study, characterization factors (CF) for natural and human-made marine systems were calculated in order to be able to assess the environmental impact of occupying marine surfaces, which was not possible so far in life cycle assessment. When accounting for natural resources while occupying one of these systems, it is important to consider the primary resources that are actually deprived from nature, which differs between the natural and human-made marine systems. In natural systems, the extracted biomass was accounted for through its exergy content, which is the maximum quantity of work that the system can execute in its environment (Wall, 1977). Reference flows for marine fish, plants, crustaceans and mollusks were proposed and their correlated CF was calculated. For human-made systems, the deprived land resource is, in fact, the occupied area of the marine surface. Based on potential marine net primary production data (NPP), exergy based spatial and temporal CFs for ocean areal occupation were calculated. This approach was included in the Cumulative Exergy Extraction from the Natural Environment (CEENE) method which makes it the first life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) method capable of analyzing the environmental impact (and more specific the resource footprint) of marine areal occupation.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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