CYCLE ANALYSIS (LCA)
to determine environmental friendliness
is a "green product?"
life cycle of any device may be thought broadly to consist of the following
general stages: (1) raw material extraction, (2) refining of material
(3) manufacture (4) distribution (5) use (6) disposal (7) waste management.
There are several transportation links between and during these stages.
the life cycle of an Aluminum can as described in Natural Capitalism,
Chapter 3. Show the geographic locations and approximate distances of
transportation on the figure. What are the routine emissions from this
might be ways to reduce the environmental impacts of this life cycle?
assignment in groups of 5 or 6. You must work in interdisciplinary groups.
of "environmentally friendly" products or "green products"
has gained a lot of attention in the past 10 years or so. As a way of
determining which of two equivalent products causes less pollution and
environmental impact, an analysis called the Product Life Cycle Analysis
(PLCA, or LCA for short) has been used.
project you will conduct a PLCA on two products that are alternatives
for the same use (e.g., paper napkins and cloth napkins). Several resources
are listed at the end of this assignment to guide and aid your work
a pair of alternatives for a consumer product with a life of 0 to 10
years. Possibilities include:
- Glass bottles and plastic bottles for soft drinks
- Cloth diapers and plastic diapers
- Incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs
- Disposable and rechargeable batteries
- Liquid and powder detergents
- Alternate Packaging materials
a flowchart showing the material, energy, and residual flows.
- Do PLCA
for the 2 products. This is to give you experience in estimating:
(1) the resources - materials and energy - embodied in products we use
the waste flows and emissions to the environment during manufacture,
use, and ultimate disposal of the product.
concept maps, tables, etc., to show the environmental burdens/ impacts,
and other factors consumers usually consider when buying a product.
on the experience of your analysis and personal experience, develop
a set of criteria for deciding on the "better product choice"
from the point of view of resource conservation and environmental
quality. What other factors would you consider besides these two?
- Propose the weight each of these criteria should have.
- Outline the set of values that you considered in this part.
- How might the criteria (or, the weights) change with the culture
of the society?
- What may be the problems in implementing the factors determined
by these criteria into the design of products?
which is more environmentally friendly. Explain your reason as you
would explain to a member of the public who does not have your expertise
in environmental impacts.
at any two products you have around for any environmental label. Briefly
describe what you learn from the labels. Design a logo and short slogan
for the green product that you worked on.
and present a report on the project. The project report should show
the detailed calculation of the LCA including your assumptions, and
approximations, the factors you considered in your assessment, the
difficulties and uncertainties in the analysis.
A detailed discussion at the end should include the problems with
doing the LCA, and to what extent it helps consumers make informed
oral presentation: Present your results in a formal presentation in
class. Each group presentation should be no more than 5 minutes. The
presentation should be a clear summary of your work, including the
uncertainties, assumptions, etc. The discussion on page 25 -26 of
the SETAC Chapter 2 should provide a good guideline in preparing the
SETAC, A Technical Framework for Life-Cycle Assessment, SETAC Foundation,
Washington, DC, 1991 -.
- Chapter 2: Framework for a Life-cycle Inventory
- Chapter 3: Raw Materials and Energy
R. Portney, "The Price is Right: Making Use of Life Cycle Analysis,"
Issues in Science and Technology, Winter 1993-94, pp. 69-75.
Shapiro, Life-cycle Evaluation of Packaging Materials, Proceedings of
IEEE Conference on Electronics and Environment, 1993, pp. 106-110.
Hocking, "Paper versus Polystyrene," Science, Vol. 251, February
product development based on life-cycle assessments (LCA) - 'from cradle
to grave'," in Sven-Olof Ryding (ed.) Environmental Management
Handbook, Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, Florida, 1992., pp. 435-438
- Amy Lynn
Salzhauser, "Obstacles and Opportunities for a Consumer Ecolabel",
Environment, Volume 33, no. 9, November 1991, pp.10-
Congress Office of Technology Assessment, Executive Summary, Green Products
by Design, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1992.
form : Ayres R.U. and A.V. Kneese, "Pollution and Environmental
Quality" in Perloff, H. (Ed.) Quality of the Urban Environment,
Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C,., p.37