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Life Cycle Assessment

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Life Cycle Assessment as an analytical tool for the environmental impact of products, companies and services

In our globalised world, we are increasingly confronted with the fact that the use of a product in this country can lead to environmental problems in other places due to previous production and delivery. According to experts, there is a reliable solution for assessing the overall impact of selected processes, operations, products or services on the environment: an ecological balance sheet. We are at your disposal with our standardised procedures!

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) takes quantitative account of emissions and resource consumption over the entire life cycle and evaluates these using scientifically established assessment methods. The results can then be linked with economic indicators to form eco-efficiency indicators. On this basis and with the broad scientific background of our employees, we develop environmentally optimized solutions for customers from a wide variety of industries. Carbotech AG uses a modular, standardized procedure to first tackle a problem with a simple life cycle assessment. Subsequently, we optionally supplement these with further modules if more detailed analyses and calculations are necessary.

Life Cycle Assessment: BasicLCA, AdvancedLCA and CustomLCA

As an experienced specialist for environmental projects and consulting, we offer you various methods for preparing your life cycle assessment. Our BasicLCA can be seen as a cost-effective entry module and serves as a rough analysis of already existing data. The approach takes place in two different ways:

  • CAcompare: Comparison of two products or processes with regard to their environmental impact
  • LCAnalysis: Analysis of a process or product with regard to its relevant, polluting source and other factors.

The AdvancedLCA is an extension to the BasicLCA, with which we can also answer more complex questions within the framework of independent data collection. Furthermore, it is ideal if the data of your life cycle assessments are to be published. Like the BasicLCA, we also offer you the AdvancedLCA in the two variants already mentioned.

Since we are regularly asked questions that cannot be answered or only to a limited extent with the existing data bases or methods, we have developed the CustomLCA for customer-specific studies for such cases. Based on these, we meet our customers’ requirements with innovative, pragmatic approaches to solutions and also carry out detailed data surveys – you can find further information on this page in the corresponding section. In this context, we recommend that you also take a look at our “Ecodesign” category.

Individual carbon footprint calculations

If you want to plan sustainably with your company and identify ecological opportunities and risks in order to define and elaborate a long-term climate strategy, an analysis of the carbon footprint will help. This can be created for the whole company, for a product or for an event. The sum of all climate-relevant gases emitted by a product over its entire life cycle is calculated. Depending on the question, we use different standards to determine a carbon footprint – in any case, you can look forward to professional support from setting the target to data collection and implementation! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail or phone.

Contact persons

Daniela Zumstein

+41 61 206 95 55
E-Mail

Ba­si­cLCA and AdvancedLCA is a standardised method developed by Car­bo­tech for the implementation of Life Cycle Assessments. This method is particularly suitable for an initial, rough analysis of already available data. Our many years of experience show that in many cases the results are clear enough and a further investigation is not necessary for the purposes of decision-making.

Ba­si­cLCA – for an initial rough analysis

BasicLCA is particularly suitable for an initial, rough analysis of already available data. Our many years of experience show that in many cases the results are clear enough and a further investigation is not necessary for the purposes of decision-making.can produce two types of LCAs. One of these allows the direct comparison of the environmental performance of two products or two processes (LCA­com­pa­re). The other analyses a product or a process for its relevant environmental impact factors (LCAna­ly­se).

Ba­si­cLCA is designed as a starter module, if internal questions need to be answered efficiently and environmentally sound. The advantages:

  • you supply the data, we calculate the environmental impact (LCAna­ly­se)
  • compact decision-making basis (2-4 A4 pages)
  • results are obtained quickly, and in a standardised format
  • we advise you concerning the choice of assessment methods
  • low cost

AdvancedLCA – for more detailed analysis

Ad­van­cedL­CA is the perfect instrument to extend the Ba­si­cLCA if more complex questions demand the collection of additional data – or when the inventory analysis needs to be published.

Ad­van­cedL­CA has two versions: LCA­com­pa­re confronts two products, processes or variations, with regards their environmental impacts, while LCA­ana­ly­se examines the sources of the relevant environmental impacts.

Along with the services included in Ba­si­cLCA, Ad­van­cedL­CA offers the following advantages

  • you define the question, we supply the independent LCA.
  • the results may be communicated externally.

 

Contact persons

Mischa Zschokke

+41 44 444 20 15
E-Mail

Cornelia Stettler

+41 61 206 95 33
E-Mail

Tailor-made Life Cycle Assessments

We are frequently confronted with questions which can not, or only to a limited degree, be answered from the existing data and methods. In such cases, it is necessary to collect more detailed data and/or extend the assessment methods. This demands not only sufficient experience in Life Cycle Assessment, but also considerable technical understanding of the systems being investigated, as well as detailed knowledge of the principles underlying the assessment methodologies.

Car­bo­tech has this broad background in its highly-qualified staff. We have accumulated a great deal of experience in a broad range of fields, including plastics manufacturing and processing, sewage treatment, agricultural products, building material production and construction, paper manufacturing, and events.

Within the experience of the various projects, we have developed assessment techniques which have been integrated by government agencies into their own methods. We have prepared the bases for data which meet the recognised standards, and which have been used by international data banks.

Our aim at all times remains to answer the questions of the client. To achieve this, we often need to seek innovative and pragmatic solutions. We nevertheless remain objective and independent and keep the primary goals clearly in focus.

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The old saying “Show me your Life Cycle Assessment and I will tell you who paid for it!” may still apply in some cases. Some may say that every result in LCAs can be demonstrated. To a certain degree this is true because LCA does not licence the truth, but merely answers specific questions. In this sense, it is decisive that the system boundaries and the data inventory used match the question being addressed.

In order to guarantee the quality of the Life Cycle Assessment, a review is used. The review process is described in detail in ISO Norm 14040/44 concerning Life Cycle Assessments. In the process, an independent third party examines the LCA, verifying that:

  • the methods used correspond to the international standards
  • the methods used are scientifically and technically valid and applicable
  • the data used are appropriate and sound enough in scope for the objectives of the study
  • the conclusions cover the objectives and scope of the study
  • the report is transparent and consistent

We always apply an internal review to our own Life Cycle Assessments, and we are very experienced as external reviewers: from simple and pragmatic supervision of the studies, and discussion of the relevant aspects, to a review process conforming to ISO 14040/44.

Contact persons

Cornelia Stettler

+41 61 206 95 33
E-Mail

Mischa Zschokke

+41 44 444 20 15
E-Mail

Consumers are not in the position to carry out Life Cycle Assessments personally on all products they buy. Nevertheless, they do demand that certain social and environmental criteria are fulfilled by their choice. Environmental labels were

Environmental Product Declaratiion (EPD) in accordance with ISO 14 025 are based on the Life Cycle Assessment­ requirements and support clients who wish to communicate the environmental performance of their products – EPDs are made and certified by independents.

EPDs cover environmental criteria, such as raw material consumption or greenhouse ­po­tenti­al, over the entire life cycle of the product, as well as further specifications.

Car­bo­tech has conducted EPDs for several clients, and has a broad range of experience to draw on. We support you in the planning and implementation of corresponding la­bels.

The information in EPDs is relatively large. If you want to compare EPDs with each other, you will reach the limits at the latest when the comparisons of the individual indicators are different and the question arises as to which information should now be considered for an ecological selection. Only by weighting the various life cycle assessment data on the basis of an overall assessment of the environmental impact (environmental footprint) will it be possible to compare the EPDs. Carbotech’s EPD calculator offers just this feature by screening the information from the EPDs.

Click here for the EPD calculator:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the analysis of the environmental footprint an adapted method ILCD Endpoint v1.06 is used (with the weighting set according to Huppes and van Oers). In part, the method was supplemented with simple approaches for initial assessment of the environmental footprint. Thus, for example, impact categories that did not correspond to the ILCD method were assigned and converted from EPDs corresponding ILCD impact categories. The selection of indicators listed for screening corresponds to the most commonly used data in EPDs. For more precise clarification, additions with further indicators and their evaluation in the context of the ILCD method may be necessary. Carbotech AG assumes no liability for the evaluations made with the calculator and the use of the results.

Contact persons

Daniela Zumstein

+41 61 206 95 55
E-Mail

Protecting the climate is today considered a current and important subject, and plays an ever greater role in the marketing and profitability of a company. Firms can gain a considerable competitive edge if they plan sustainably and integrate environmental risks and opportunities.

An analysis of the carbon footprint of your company, organisation, or products, is the starting point for developing an effective climate strategy. From this the relevant processes can be identified and options for management developed.

The carbon footprint reveals the sum of all climate relevant gases emitted e.g. by a product over its entire life cycle. We then use the most applicable standards for the assessment: PAS 2050, GHG Pro­to­cols, ISO 14 040, etc.

The carbon footprint permits an objective assessment of climate protection measures and provides the options of emission credits, CO2-neu­tra­l products, CDM projects, etc. In addition, it provides easily communicated statistics.

Our procedure is consistent with the Life Cycle Assessment but with a focus on climate impacts (greenhouse potential):

  • Establishing the objectives, system boundaries, and suitable methods;
  • Collection of data and calculation of the emissions;
  • Compilation of a detailed carbon footprint balance sheet;
  • Analysis of the relevant emission factors;
  • Identification of management options, measures and recommendations;
  • Support during the implementation of measures, monitoring and report preparation.
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Water, in particular clean drinking water, is globally becoming a scarcer and ever more valuable commodity. Water is also used in large quantities during the manufacture of products. For example, the manufacture of a cotton T-shirt uses about 3,000 l water, 1kg beef around 16,000 l water and a car needs no less than 200,000 l water.

The water footprint on its own is a simple measure of the consumption of water, including a distinction between:

  • surface and groundwater (blue wa­ter)
  • rainwater (green wa­ter)
  • contaminated water (grey wa­ter)

However, in most cases the availability of water is more critical than the demand. The consumption of 100 l water for a shower in Switzerland is less of an issue than in a desert area. Therefore, we consider not only the water quantities used (water footprint), but also the water scarcity, which results from ratio of water availability to water consumption in the region in question. A measure of the water scarcity is a more accurate reflection of the overall environmental impact of water consumption in a particular region.

On the basis of our experience with assessing the water footprints of everything from individual products to entire countries, we can help you to establish specific water footprints and their environmental impacts. Our procedure is consistent with Life Cycle Assessment:

  • Establishing the objectives, system boundaries and most suitable methods;
  • Collection of data and calculation of the impact;
  • Compilation of a detailed impact account sheet (environmental impact of water use);
  • Analysis of the relevant factors;
  • Identification of management options, measures and recommendations;
  • Support during the implementation of measures, monitoring and report preparation.
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The extraction of raw materials, which is largely carried out in emerging and developing countries, is often associated not only with environmental impacts but also with negative social impacts. In recent years, these have increasingly become the focus of public attention and thus the interest to extend the environmental life cycle analysis / footprint with social effects. The following aspects are covered:

  • Finding social hotspots along the life cycle
  • Identification of potential social risks
  • Providing information to the interested public
  • Identify positive social effects that may be hidden in supply chains.

We use the SOCA process database. This links the ecoinvent database with the PSILCA database, which is an economic input/output database containing 37 social indicators on 15’000 sectors from over 189 countries in addition to the corresponding cash flows. Based on the country-specific information from the PSILCA database, the corresponding social indicators for the process inventories from ecoinvent v3.3 were compiled in the SOCA database. The SOCA database is based on the UNEP Guidelines for social life cycle assessment of products and The Methodological Sheets for Sub-categories in Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA).

To determine the relevance of the different social impacts, we standardise them with the global social impact flows. This shows how the effects of the system examined affect society as a whole. The result of standardization is dimensionless quantities. The normalized indicators are aggregated to a final value using a weighting set (based on Manik et al. 2013). To make it easier to understand, we have introduced the term “Social Burden Points – SBP” for the final score.

This procedure allows us to combine the abundance of 37 indicator statements into one parameter and make the results more comprehensible.