The best impact assessment developments of 2019: spatial differentiation

At PRé, we are always keeping an eye on what impact assessment methodology developers are doing to make LCA even more reliable. In this 4-part series, we share with you the highlights of developments on a variety of topics: spatial differentiation, impact pathways, agricultural modelling and more. In part 1, we discuss the 2019 accomplishments in spatial differentiation. This article was written by Laura Golsteijn with contributions from Francesca Verones and Rosalie van Zelm.

Global and spatially explicit impact assessment with LC-IMPACT

Multi-impact category method LC-IMPACT is nearing global applicability by LCA practitioners. The method aims to provide a global life cycle impact assessment methodology for the three main areas of protection (human health, ecosystem quality and resources), including spatially differentiated information wherever necessary and feasible. The revised paper was submitted last October. Once it is accepted, publication in SimaPro will follow swiftly.

Consistent global extinction probabilities

When deriving global impacts from regional species richness impacts, it is important to be consistent. Method developers from NTNU and ETH propose conversion or weighting factors that take regionally specific species compositions into account – the so-called global extinction probabilities of the reference location or region – since the risk that regional species loss may result in global species extinctions differs significantly per region. The probabilities can be used to determine where irreversible biodiversity impacts are more likely to occur. This work is a step forward in modelling global extinction probabilities for use in LCA or the identification of conservation hot spots.

Increased applicability of ReCiPe2016

By popular request, normalisation factors for ReCiPe 2016 are now available in SimaPro. Also of interest to ReCiPe users is the comparison between ReCiPe 2008 and ReCiPe 2016 for 152 food products, performed by the ReCiPe method developers and the Dutch Institute for the Environment and Health (RIVM). This study showed that, while the update of ReCiPe leads to different LCIA results, the conclusions about hotspots and ranking of food product consumption in the Netherlands are still comparable. Given the changes per product due to the update, the recommendation is to switch to ReCiPe 2016 for endpoint-level LCAs, especially for products that emit large amounts of PM2.5 or consume large amounts of water within their life cycle.

If you are interested in reading more about any of these developments, follow the links or contact us. Are you a researcher working on something that might be relevant to share? We are always happy to hear about new developments, so do not hesitate to reach out.

Stay tuned for the other parts in the series. Next topic: impact pathways.

Laura Golsteijn

Senior Consultant

I am eager to increase the environmental awareness of our society, and I believe that everyone can contribute to a more sustainable world, every day. At PRé we provide companies with both the knowledge and the tools to improve their products and services. I am excited to work for an organisation that is involved in developing sustainable initiatives.

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