412272 LCA Needs to Move Toward Sustainability to Remain Relevant-

Thursday, November 12, 2015: 3:40 PM
255F (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Sergio F. Galeano, SERGAL LLC, Peachtree City, GA

LCA, a methodology amply utilized to environmentally assess product systems under the requirements of ISO LCA standards, has been used for the last decade or so with important constraints or limitations. Among the most important of such limitations are specifically its use in comparing product systems and in its use as a predictor of sustainability. Albeit the issues around its capacity to accurately and fairly compare product systems have been amply discussed and the original standard revised or modified in those sections having to do with comparative assertions, etc. still. limitations as a predictive tool for environmental preference among product systems persist. However, the LCA standard capability to address sustainability issues has not been examined in the same depth and extent. Nevertheless, the demand of society for a proper indicator of sustainability of different product systems has resulted in the improper suggestion, and even use, of inadequate methodologies. LCA, because its popularity, has been considered one such a metric. Another, purely arithmetic reduction efficiency, has and its being used as a pseudo sustainability metric. In both cited approaches, the lack of context and thresholds invalidate its valid use as sustainability metrics. The paper analyzes the fundamental characteristics of LCA methodology in ISO standards vis a vis the needed characteristics for a proper sustainability metric for product systems. The results of the analysis clearly indicate that LCA study results are not proper metrics to evaluate sustainability of products systems. A more proper and effective use of LCA would be as a preliminary analysis of the product system from which to focus in more important elements or indicators of the LCA study analysis. A concerted effort should be initiated by academy and practice to incorporate needed thresholds or pseudo-thresholds, in the methodology and practice of LCA. As now, in general, the results of a LCA study, by themselves, are improper metrics for sustainability.

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See more of this Session: Sustainability Metrics at the Process and Product Level
See more of this Group/Topical: Environmental Division