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Evaluating the sustainability of electronic media: Strategies for life cycle inventory data collection and their implications for LCA results


Hischier, Roland; Achachlouei, Mohammad Ahmadi; Hilty, Lorenz (2014). Evaluating the sustainability of electronic media: Strategies for life cycle inventory data collection and their implications for LCA results. Environmental Modelling & Software, 56:27-36.

Abstract

This paper compares two Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies independently carried out to assess the environmental impacts of electronic versus print media. Although the two studies lead to the same overall conclusion for the case of a news magazine – namely that the tablet version of the magazine has environmental advantages over the print version – there are significant differences in the details of the LCA results. We show how these differences can be explained by differences in the methodological approaches used for Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) modelling, in particular the use of rough average data versus the attempt to use the most specific and detailed data as possible. We conclude that there are several issues in LCA practice (at least when applied in the domain of media) that can significantly influence the results already at the LCI level: The data collection strategy used (e.g. relying on desk-based research or dismantling a device under study) and the decisions made at inventory level with regard to parameters with high geographic variability, such as the electricity mix or recycling quotas.

Abstract

This paper compares two Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies independently carried out to assess the environmental impacts of electronic versus print media. Although the two studies lead to the same overall conclusion for the case of a news magazine – namely that the tablet version of the magazine has environmental advantages over the print version – there are significant differences in the details of the LCA results. We show how these differences can be explained by differences in the methodological approaches used for Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) modelling, in particular the use of rough average data versus the attempt to use the most specific and detailed data as possible. We conclude that there are several issues in LCA practice (at least when applied in the domain of media) that can significantly influence the results already at the LCI level: The data collection strategy used (e.g. relying on desk-based research or dismantling a device under study) and the decisions made at inventory level with regard to parameters with high geographic variability, such as the electricity mix or recycling quotas.

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10 citations in Web of Science®
12 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Language:English
Date:3 February 2014
Deposited On:10 Jun 2014 11:53
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:54
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1364-8152
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsoft.2014.01.001
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:9192

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