The LCA-dictionary

The LCA-dictionary: every concept related to lifecycle analysis (LCA) in one list. A clear overview in alphabetical order, like a dictionary!

Abiotic Depletion

Abiotic resources are natural resources such as iron ore and crude oil that are considered non-living, as well as energy sources such as wind and running water. Depletion of abiotic resources is one of the Impact Categories that should be taken into account when making an LCA and is one of the most discussed Impact Categories.

Acidification

The acidification of soil and water is the result of a surplus of acidifying substances. These acidifying substances, mainly sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and ammonia, end up in the soil via emissions through air. Acidification is bad for many plant species because important nutrients such as potassium, calcium and magnesium are washed away, which make plants susceptible to diseases. Nutrients that are still in the soil are also more difficult to absorb because rinsed out aluminum particles affect the very fine hair roots of plants. Another consequence of an ‘acidified’ soil is that there is an excess of nitrogen present in the soil. Plant species that thrive in nitrogen-poor soils, such as heathlands, are displaced by fast-growing plant species, such as nettles and blackberries, which require more nitrogen. As a result, biodiversity decreases.

Allocation

Allocation is the distribution of the input or output flows of a process (or product system) between the investigated product system and one or more other product systems. Distributions that can be made in accordance with ISO 14040 are: distributions based on physical connections, economic distributions and distributions based on factors such as weight, volume, energy, etc.

Biogenic CO2

The combustion, fermentation or gasification of biomass results in bioenergy. When producing bioenergy, CO2 is released into the atmosphere. Of course, CO2 is also released when fossil resources are burned, so what’s the difference? This lies in the origin of the CO2 that is released. While fossil resources release carbon dioxide that has been locked up underground for millions of years, the production of bioenergy releases CO2 that was absorbed through photosynthesis. CO2 + H2O + sunlight = biomass, remember? Biogenic carbon forms the short carbon cycle, with a set time span of 100 years. This means that it is assumed that within 100 years the carbon will be taken up by trees and plants, and is released again when the biomass ends up in an incinerator when it gets thrown away.

Biomass & Bioenergy

Biomass refers to everything that has an organic origin and is therefore produced by organisms (plants and animals), such as wood. In other words, biomass is any kind of organic material that has absorbed sunlight and then stored it in the form of energy, i.e. through photosynthesis. Raw materials that have been transformed through geological processes, for example coal or natural gas, are not considered biomass. Bioenergy can be produced by burning, fermenting or gasifying biomass. This can be biomass in the form of unprocessed/raw biomass, but burning biofuel also results in bioenergy. A major advantage of bioenergy is that it can be used as an alternative to energy produced by fossil raw materials.

By-product (bijproduct)

A by-product is a product that is unintentionally created in a production process, but has a useful and valuable application. In the sugar beet industry, for example, beet pulp and molasses are produced as by-products. These can be used for animal feed, fertilizer, or as raw material for the production of alcohol. Using by-products ensures that a larger proportion of the original raw materials is used, which ultimately results in less waste. Since these by-products have a value, part of the environmental impact of the production process in which the by-products are created is also allocated in an LCA. This is done through allocation.

Carbon footprint

When a carbon footprint is made of a product, company, or organization, the amount of CO2 emissions (or reductions) taking place are mapped. When making a carbon footprint, there are different emissions to distinguish. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol has grouped these emissions into different scope emissions. A distinction is made between direct CO2 emissions (scope 1) when for example diesel is burned at your production facility. Your own indirect CO2 emissions (scope 2) arising from generating the electricity that you use. And scope 3, which includes all other, indirect CO2 emissions, such as the transport of required raw materials and purchased raw materials.

 Characterization (factor) 

Characterization Factors are used to calculate the quantity of an Impact Category Indicator to match it with a functional unit. A characterization factor is applied to convert an analysis result from a Lifecycle Inventory Analysis (LCI) to the common unit (ISO 14040).

Characterization model

This is a model that describes a relationship between a Lifecycle Inventory Analysis (LCI) result and its subsequent Impact(s) as represented by the Impact category endpoint(s).

Climate change

Climate change, who hasn’t heard of it? It is a comprehensive understanding of the consequences of global warming. The earth is warming up due to, what you probably already know, the rapidly increasing amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In August 2021, a new report was released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC is an organization established by the United Nations to research and evaluate the risks of climate change. Their most recent research report outlines some key conclusions:

  1. It is a fact that the vast majority of global warming is due to humans.
  2. Climate change due to global warming has already caused many problems. Climate change is most noticeable and observable through the increase in, especially regional, weather extremes.
  3. The limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius global temperature rise will already be reached in about 10 years, where previously 20 to 30 years were taken into account. This once again emphasizes the need to reduce our environmental impact!

Coca-Cola

Originally a LCA is a scientific methodology to quantify the environmental impact of a product or service. But already in 1969, Coca-Cola was the first company that showed a LCA could also have a commercial benefit. Back then Coca Cola only produced classic glass bottles. Mainly driven by economic reasons, Coca-Cola was exploring other materials for their packaging, in order to reduce material and energy use and thus reduce costs. Now we are all familiar with aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

Cradle-to- …

  • Gate

Cradle-to-Gate refers to a system boundary that does not encompass the entire lifecycle of a product, but only part of it. Namely, from raw material extraction (cradle) to the factory gate. The use and end-of-life phases are therefore not included.

  • Grave

Cradle-to-Grave has a system boundary of the entire life cycle of a product. From the extraction of raw materials to the end of the product’s lifespan, including the use phase.

  • Cradle

The philosophy behind Cradle-to-Cradle is that all materials used in a product can be usefully used in another product. The difference with conventional reuse is that there is no loss of quality and therefore no by-products/waste. A frequently used term in the Cradle-to-Cradle philosophy is “waste equals food”.

Cut-off criteria

Specification of the amount of material or energy flow, or the level of environmental significance associated with unit processes or product systems to be excluded from a study. (ISO 2006).

Dataset (LCI or LCIA dataset)

A document or file containing the life cycle information of a specific product or other references (e.g. location, process), containing metadata and a quantitative life cycle inventory and/or life cycle impact assessment data. When making an LCA, it is important to check the quality of the data. To increase the robustness of an LCA outcome (the environmental impact of a product, company, or organization), the aim is always to use supplier-specific data. In the event that no supplier-specific data is available or can be requested, the National Environmental Database (NMD) or the Ecoinvent database is used.

Distance-to-target method (DTT method)

This is a weighting method that weights impacts by the ratio of the current level of each impact and the target level for that impact.

Downcycling

Downcycling is a term from the world of recycling. When a product is recycled, but no longer has the quality or purity of the original product, the process of recycling is called downcycling. The opposite of downcycling is upcycling. This is the process in which the quality of raw material increases when it is recycled.

Ecochain

Ecochain is a sustainability platform that connects organizations worldwide. The company has developed different LCA tools (Ecochain and Mobius) that make it possible for companies and organizations to gain real-time insight into their impact on the environment. When Hedgehog Company makes an LCA of your product, company, or organization, we also use these tools!

Ecoinvent

Ecoinvent is a Swiss organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the availability of LCA data worldwide. Ecoinvent has published a LCA database containing well-documented process data of thousands of materials and products. This is mainly average data from LCA results and EPDs, which of course comply with all EN and ISO standards. The Ecoinvent database helps organizations and companies worldwide with making LCAs and makes it possible to gain insight into the environmental impact of different products. This also offers the opportunity to make informed decisions determined by a product’s negative or positive impact on the environment.

Ecolabels 

With growing concerns about the environmental impact of product systems, a series of efforts have been made to change both producer and consumer behavior. Ecolabelling is a way of informing consumers about the environmental impact of their consumption patterns and encouraging producers to improve the environmental sustainability of their products. There are three different types of ecolabels: type 1, type 2, and type 3.

  • Type 1: Also called the ‘classic’ ecolabel, evaluates the environmental impact of a product compared to comparable products. Type 1 is also considered the so-called “gold standard” for consumer education because it is backed by an independent certification body. Two common ecolabels are the EU Ecolabel and Fair Trade.
  • Type 2: Claims by manufacturers, importers, retailers, or distributors about the environmental characteristics of a product or service. Type 2 ecolabels are not certified by an independent party and thus raise questions about the validity of the claims.
  • Type 3: Voluntary declarations of the sustainability of the entire life cycle of a product or service. This type of ecolabel may or may not be certified by third parties and facilitates drawing independent conclusions about the sustainability of a product/service.

Elementary Flow

Material or energy that has been drawn from the environment without previous human transformation entering the system, or material or energy leaving the system that is released into the environment without subsequent human transformation (ISO 14040).

Environment

The surroundings in which an organization operates, including air, water, land, natural resources, flora, fauna, humans, and their interrelation. Often divided into the social environment (humans), biophysical environment (nature), and economic environment (resources).

Environmental Cost Indicator (ECI)

An Environmental Cost Indicator is a score in which all Impact Categories are weighted and summarized, expressed in Euros. Another name for an ECI is also called the single-score indicator or in dutch the Milieu Kosten Indicator. To calculate the environmental impact of a product or company, an LCA must be performed. But because every product or company is different (and thus the LCA), it is difficult to compare the different environmental impacts. And that’s where the ECI comes in handy. By translating the total environmental impact into Euros, it is possible to easily compare different products and companies. This in turn can be useful for public tenders for example or a municipality or province that can use the ECI as a criterion to select the winning tender.

Environmental Profile

An environmental profile is the outcome of an LCA. The environmental effects are expressed in various Impact Categories, such as depletion of raw materials, climate change, and the depletion of the ozone layer.

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

An EPD is a standardized, LCA-based document (ISO14025), which is used to disclose and communicate the environmental performance of a product or system. An EPD can be considered as a summary of an LCA report, in which company-sensitive information is excluded. It forms an environmental profile of a product that is used worldwide by companies and organizations to indicate the impact products or systems have on the environment.

ESG (Environment, Social, Governance)

ESG criteria are environmental, social, and governance criteria for a company’s activities that may have an impact on society or the environment. The ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) criteria are the three main criteria used to measure the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company or in an economic field. This way, they form a measurable responsible investment.

Foreground system

The foreground system consists of processes that are under the control of the decision-maker for which an LCA is carried out. They are called foreground processes.

Frans Timmermans

Franciscus Cornelis Gerardus Maria (Frans) Timmermans (Maastricht, 6 May 1961) is a Dutch politician, diplomat, and since 1 December 2019, European Commissioner and the First Vice-Chairman of the Von der Leyen Commission. On 2 December 2019, Timmermans started as climate European Commissioner. In March 2020, Timmermans presented his ‘Green deal‘, a list of plans to make the European Union climate neutral by 2050. His proposal included that the European Commission should be allowed to tighten up the climate targets itself if climate neutrality were to become out of sight in 2050, met with resistance from MEPs and lawyers. Despite the declaration of a climate emergency by a majority of the European Parliament in November 2019, agriculture was not obliged to become more sustainable, partly due to a strong agricultural lobby.

Functional Unit

The definition of a functional unit is essential for establishing and modeling a product system in an LCA. A functional unit is a quantified description of the function of a product that serves as a reference for all calculations related to the environmental impact score. A functional unit can be based on various characteristics of the examined product, such as performance, aesthetics, technical quality, additional services, costs, etc.

Global Warming Potential (GWP)

Global Warming Potential is an indication of the extent to which a greenhouse gas contributes to global warming. Climate change is a relative measure, meaning it is a score, expressed in CO2 equivalents, that looks at global warming. In other words, the GWP is, over a period of 100 years, the warming potential of 1 kg of a given greenhouse gas, compared to 1 kg of CO2. For example, methane is also a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. However, methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas and weighs 25 times as much as carbon dioxide.

Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)

Greenhouse gas emissions are greenhouse gases that end up in the atmosphere through human action. Every year we all ensure that approximately 50 billion tons of CO2 per year end up in the atmosphere and these emissions are therefore one of the major causes of climate change. The most common greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2). This is released when fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas are burned. Large emitters of CO2 are therefore often companies in the transport and energy sector. Other greenhouse gases are methane, nitrous oxide, and water vapor.

GHG Reporting Protocol

The GHG reporting protocol applies to the measurement of greenhouse gas emissions in both the public and private sectors and is the common standard for reporting methods and the basis for many sustainability certifications. To properly understand the environmental impact of greenhouse gases, it is necessary that companies and organizations gain insight into their hotspots and take actions to reduce these emissions. Measuring, reporting, and reducing greenhouse gases is therefore becoming increasingly important. The GHG Reporting Protocol prescribes that companies and organizations report at least the emissions of scope 1 and 2. Scope 3 is optional.

Green Deal

The European Green Deal is a program from the Van Der Leyen Commission to combat climate change. With this Green Deal, Europe must reduce CO2 emissions by 55 percent by 2030 (compared to 1990), and by 2050 Europe should become the first climate-neutral continent. The European Union should then no longer contribute to global warming through the emission of greenhouse gasses and first Vice-President Frans Timmermans is responsible for this. To make the EU climate neutral by 2050, a roadmap has been drawn up with a whole series of measures. 

The European Green Deal covers all sectors of the economy, in particular transport, energy, agriculture, and infrastructure, but also, for example, ICT. Major investments are required to achieve the objectives. It is estimated that an additional 260 billion euros will have to be invested annually. On 14 July 2021, the European Commission presented a large package of measures, called ‘Fit for 55’, with which these objectives are to be achieved. The climate package consists of a large number of laws and will profoundly change the European economy and society. For example, fossil fuels will become more expensive in phases and petrol cars will no longer be made from 2035.

Greenwashing

When a company or organization engages in greenwashing, it means that they pretend to be more sustainable or socially responsible than they actually are. A good example of a greenwasher is the oil company Shell. By promoting sustainable investments and pretending to understand the importance of global warming, the company appears to be pursuing a green future. However, Shell is one of the largest polluters in the world and there is no prospect of any change so far. The newspaper Trouw reports that Shell has not even managed to adhere to its own green targets between 2016 and 2020.

Hotspot analysis

In the world of LCA, a hotspot means a material, life cycle stage, or process that is responsible for a significant proportion of the environmental impact. A hotspot analysis is an analysis of all the hotspots found in an LCA. The output of a hotspot analysis can be used to identify and prioritize potential actions to act on the most significant impacts. A hotspot analysis is often performed before more detailed research is done. 

Human Toxicity Potential

The potential for human toxicity (HTP), a calculated index representing the potential harm of a chemical released into the environment, is based on both a compound’s inherent toxicity and its potential dose. It is used to weigh emissions inventoried as part of a life cycle assessment (LCA) and to aggregate emissions in terms of a reference compound. The total emissions can be evaluated in terms of benzene equivalence (carcinogens) and toluene equivalents (non-carcinogenic substances).

Impact category

Impact Categories are logical groupings of LCA results, which are of interest to stakeholders and those responsible for making decisions. What is useful about Impact Categories is that it provides a clear overview of the environmental impact on different parts of nature. This way you can immediately see which emissions have what sort of impact. A distinction can be made between different Impact Categories, including resource use, climate change, and water consumption.

Impact category midpoint/endpoint

When calculating the results of an LCA, you can use many different impact assessment methods. Although these methods vary in several aspects, one main distinction is between midpoint and endpoint methods. These methods use different stages in the cause-effect chain to calculate the impact. A midpoint method looks at the impact earlier along the cause-effect chain before the endpoint is reached. An endpoint method looks at environmental impact at the end of this cause-effect chain. Endpoint results are typically shown as an impact on human health, ecosystem quality, and resource depletion. These three endpoints capture the effect of many different endpoints since many different environmental impact pathways eventually end up as damage to human health, damage to ecosystems, or as depletion of resources.

ISO 14040

ISO 14040 is a standardized way of describing the principles and frameworks of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). An LCA in accordance with ISO 14040 consists of four different phases: defining the purpose and scope of an LCA, an inventory analysis (LCI), an impact assessment (LCIA), and an interpretation phase.

The difference between ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 is that ISO 14040 applies more as a general introduction of an LCA and LCI, and ISO 14044 sets more specific requirements.

ISO 14044

ISO 14044 specifies requirements and provides guidelines for a life cycle assessment (LCA). These requirements and guidelines include the definition of the purpose, the scope of the LCA (scope 1, 2 and 3), the life cycle inventory analysis phase (LCI), the life cycle impact analysis phase (LCIA), the life cycle interpretation phase, a reporting and critical review of the LCA, the limitations of the LCA, the relationship between different LCA phases and the conditions for use.

The difference between ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 is that ISO 14044 provides more specific guidelines and sets requirements, whereas ISO 14040 is more regarded as a general introduction of an LCA or LCI.

Life Cycle

The life cycle of a product consists of the entire chain of a product: the production, the use of the product, and its disposal. Rather than a life cycle, it is also referred to as the production chain.

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) 

A Life Cycle Analysis is originally a scientific method for mapping the influence of products and human activities on the environment. For example, the entire life cycle of a product is mapped, from raw material extraction to processing into waste, and it is investigated what impact this has on the planet. An LCA quantifies the environmental impact of a product. The LCA method is also increasingly being used commercially. Did you know, for example, that the first Life Cycle Analysis was performed by Coca-Cola in 1969?

Life Cycle Costing (LCC)

LCC is an assessment of all costs related to a certain product, over the entire life cycle of that product.

Life Cycle Inventory Analysis (LCI)

An LCI analysis is defined by ISO as the phase of an LCA which includes the collection and quantification of inputs and outputs for a product throughout its life cycle. An LCI analysis requires the quantification of the following elements:

  • energy requirements
  • required raw materials
  • emissions (atmospheric, on water, on land)
  • solid waste
  • other damage to the environment

Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA)

A Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) is the phase of an LCA in which the evaluation of the (potential) impact on the environment through elementary flows takes place. This impact follows from making a Life Cycle Inventory Analysis (LCI). An LCIA contains the following steps:

  1. Selecting relevant Impact Categories.
  2. Classification: assigning elementary flows to Impact Categories.
  3. Characterization: the use of characterization factors to calculate the amount of an Impact Category Indicator that corresponds to a functional unit.
  4. Normalization: Expressing potential impacts relative to a reference.
  5. Grouping: sorting and/or ranking Impact Indicators.
  6. Weighing: relative weighting of Impact Categories; evaluation and reporting.

Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA)

Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) refers to the evaluation of all environmental, social and economic impacts (either negative or positive) on decision making processes for sustainable products throughout the entire life cycle.

Milieuprestatie Gebouwen (MPG)

The environmental performance of buildings (MPG) can be calculated on the basis of the ECI. The MPG is the total environmental impact caused by a building, expressed in Euro / GFA (gross floor area) / 50 or 75 years. Nowadays it is mandatory in the Netherlands to have an MPG calculation made when building new office buildings or new homes.

NEN & EN Standards 

NEN and EN standards are a wide range of standards. For example, this can be a standard for lightning protection (NEN 1014), but also a standard for energy performance of buildings (NEN 7120), so it is a very diverse list. The difference between a NEN and an EN standard is that a NEN standard is a Dutch standard, while an EN is a European harmonized standard.

An example of a European standard is the EN15804. This is a standard that determines how EPDs (environmental product declarations) should be drawn up in the construction sector. The advantage of an LCA prepared according to European standards is that it provides a transparent and fair working method that makes it easier to compare LCA results across Europe.

Net Zero Emission

Net Zero Emission refers to a situation in which greenhouse gas emissions and greenhouse gas intake are in balance. In other words, all emissions are offset so that there is no net emission of greenhouse gases. A common way of compensating for emissions is planting new trees.

Nationale Milieu Database (NMD)

The ‘Nationale Milieu Database’ is the dutch National Environmental Database. This database contains environmental data of construction products and building installations supplied by industry or other databases, which are used in the calculation tools when calculating the environmental performance of construction works. The environmental data in the NMD include environmental profiles: lists of environmental impacts expressed in different Impact Categories according to the European Standard (EN) 15804, such as depletion of raw materials, global warming potential and depletion of the ozone layer.

Organisation Environmental Footprint (OEF) 

The Organization Environmental Footprint (OEF) is a measurement of an organization’s environmental performance, based on various criteria. OEF studies are designed with the overarching goal of reducing an organization’s environmental impact, taking into account the organization’s activities and the production chain (from raw material extraction, production to use, and end-of-life).

Ozone depletion

The Earth’s ozone layer is gradually thinning which results in it degrading. This degradation is caused by gases containing chlorine and/or bromine and are released during industrial and human activities. The thinning of the ozone layer is most severe over the polar regions (particularly over the Antarctic) and causes a number of problems. Because the ozone layer is damaged, more UV radiation reaches the earth’s surface, resulting in an increase in the number of people with skin cancer and damage to the immune system. The Montreal Protocol (1987) was the first of a number of comprehensive international agreements to end the production and use of ozone-depleting chemicals, such as those found in deodorants. As a result of this reduction through international cooperation, the ozone layer is expected to recover over time.

Photosynthesis

Plants have the gift of converting sunlight into energy. This process is called photosynthesis and takes place in the leaves of a plant (in the chloroplasts to be precise). To produce energy (glucose), a plant needs more than just sunlight (photons), namely CO2 and water. These three elements together form the recipe to produce glucose, with oxygen (O2) being created as a by-product. And that is good for people, among other things!

Product cards (Productkaarten )

The Dutch National Environmental Database (NMD) is filled with product cards. A product card contains general information about the product in question, such as name, service life, and functional unit. In addition, it contains environmental information obtained from a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). There are three different categories of product cards:

  • Category 1: proprietary and verified data from manufacturers and suppliers. This data has been verified by an independent, qualified third party according to the NMD verification protocol. A category 1 product card is public with limited access to environmental information.
  • Category 2: unbranded data of groups of manufacturers and/or suppliers and branches. Testing: tested by an independent, qualified third party in accordance with the Testing Protocol, stating its representativeness (representative of, for example, the Dutch market or a group of producers). Public access: product card public, environmental information limited access.
  • Category 3: Unbranded data from the National Environmental Database Foundation. Testing: not tested according to the Testing Protocol. Publicity: product cards and basic profiles public.

The validity of a product card expires after 5 years. After this period, product cards must be adjusted. Product cards may also be adjusted in the interim, for example after changes in the production process that affect the environmental performance.

Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)

While an Organization Environmental Footprint (OEF) study focuses on the entire organization, a Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) study focuses on individual products or services. A PEF maps out the environmental impact of a specific product or service; from raw material extraction, production to use, and end-of-life.

The PEF method was developed by the European Commission (EC) with the aim of measuring the environmental performance of products in a standardized way. Because the EC has drawn up product rules for a LCA, the same method is now used everywhere in Europe. This has made it easier to communicate and compare environmental performance.

Product System

The Product System is a collection of processes (activities that convert inputs into outputs) that are necessary to perform a certain function and fall within the framework of the research (System Boundaries). It is representative of all processes in the life cycle of a product or service.

Quality

Quality always comes first at Hedgehog Company. Using our expertise, we can ensure that all steps of the process (from data collection to the delivery of results) take place according to a structured plan, and provide feedback on our progress in between. This way we ensure that you are included in the process and that no misunderstandings can arise.

Rebound effect

Rebound Effects are the changes in production and/or consumption of a person or company when a particular product is improved. For example: “Now that I drive an electric car, I can use my car more often” or “now that our company produces our products in a more sustainable way, we can increase our production”. In other words, there is a shift in environmental impact. A distinction can be made between three types of Rebound Effects:

  1. Specific Rebound Effects: this changes the production and consumption of the relevant product. 
  2. General Rebound Effects: This changes general production and consumption.
  3. Behavioral Rebound Effects: Here the behavior changes as a result of an improvement or innovation on a product. Example: “Now that I eat less meat, I can shower 10 minutes a day longer”.

Through an LCA, Hedgehog Company can minimize the Rebound Effect by including the entire life cycle of a company or organization. This takes into account the environmental impact of an improvement/innovation and what consequences this has for the rest of the business operations or mentality. This way we ensure that the environmental impact that we calculate through a LCA is reliable ánd credible.

Reference flow

The Reference flows translate an abstract functional unit into specific product flows for each of the compared product systems, so that product alternatives are compared on an equal basis whereby the actual consequences of a potential product can be mapped out. The Reference flows are the starting points for building the required models of product systems.

Scope 1, 2 & 3

When making an LCA, different scopes are considered. There are three different scopes, whereby a distinction is made between scope 1 and scope 2 and 3. Scope 1 includes direct emissions and scope 2 & 3 includes indirect emissions. The use of scopes provides insight into the source of the emissions and facilitates the process of reducing emissions; it provides a quick insight into what an organization or company can do about itself and where it depends on, for example, suppliers.

  • … 1

As mentioned above, Scope 1 includes direct emissions. These are the emissions for which a company or organization itself is responsible. An example is, for example, the CO2 emissions that are released during the combustion of diesel from machines that run at the company’s own production location. An exception to scope 1 is the gases that are released during the combustion, fermentation, or gasification of biomass.

  • … 2

Scope two includes the greenhouse gases released during the production of energy. For example, you can think of the CO2 gases that are released during the production of gray electricity. It concerns emissions that do not take place at the location of an organization or company itself, but that take place at the location of an energy producer.

  • … 3

Scope 3 includes all emissions from sources that are not owned (or directly controlled) by the organization or company for which an LCA is made. Despite the fact that there is no direct control over these emissions, they are emissions for which the company or organization is jointly responsible. An example of a scope 3 emission is the greenhouse gases released during the transport of raw materials, which are needed for the production of goods, for example. This is often the largest hotspot and the greatest challenge lies in reducing emissions.

SMOG

Fortunately, smog is something that we do not often suffer from in the Netherlands. However, the problem is closer than you might think: cities like Paris and London are affected by SMOG and already had to take measures against it. Smog is the result of an increase in air pollution and is mainly caused by ozone and particulate matter, substances that are released via car exhaust gases. A distinction can be made between two types of smog: photochemical smog and industrial smog.

The first can arise in the summer when there is little or no wind for a number of days and it is warm and sunny. This form of smog is also called ‘brown smog’ and is mainly caused by cars and power plants.

The second form of smog, industrial smog, is also known as “grey smog”. This is produced in a different way than photochemical smog. So-called ‘grey cities’ are usually located in a cold and wet climate and are often heavily dependent on coal and oil. Industrial smog mainly occurs in winter when the demand and consumption of these fossil fuels are higher. To reduce smog, it is very important that we all drive less and cleaner, and that dirty industry take responsibility for their environmental impact.

Stichting Bouwkwaliteit (SBK)

Stichting Bouwkwaliteit coordinates and harmonizes certification in the construction sector and aims to stimulate quality assurance in construction. In addition to managing the quality labels, SBK advises the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment and acts as a liaison for the Netherlands in the field of European legislation and regulations.

The SBK Determination Method forms the calculation rules for drawing up an LCA in the Dutch construction sector.

System boundary

A system boundary determines the boundaries of an LCA study. For example, it is necessary to determine the boundaries between technology and nature, the delineation of the geographical area and the time horizon considered, the boundaries between production and production of capital goods, and the boundaries between the life cycle of the product under investigation and related life cycles of other products. Setting clear system boundaries is of great importance when making an LCA and has a major influence on the ultimate environmental impact.

Transparency

Transparency is extremely important when performing an LCA. If it’s unclear where data comes from and it is difficult to establish the reliability of data, it becomes difficult to determine the correctness of an LCA outcome (environmental impact). Therefore, Hedgehog Company ideally uses supplier-specific data, and only when this is not possible, data from the Ecoinvent database or the National Environmental Database (NMD) is used. An LCA itself also contributes to transparency. An LCA provides complete insight into all environmental impacts of a product, company, or organization and offers the chance to find out where the most impact is and where there are opportunities for improvement.

Unit process

A Unit Process is one or more operations in a product system that can be defined and separated from other steps in the process. A Unit Process therefore only contains emissions and resource inputs from one process step and refers to the input from other processes. ISO 14040 defines a Unit Process as “the smallest element studied in the analysis of the LCIA for which input and output data is quantified.”

Upcycling

Everyone knows what recycling means, but not everyone has heard of upcycling even though upcycling is actually a form of recycling. The difference between ‘normal’ recycling and upcycling lies in the difference in quality after recycling a product. Upcycling an old or used product means that after recycling the product has gained more value. Examples of upcycling are old oil drums that can be used as new furniture or old denim that is used to produce new bags. The opposite of upcycling is downcycling, where the quality goes down when reused.

Value Chain

A Value Chain is a model that represents the activities of a company and provides insight into how a company converts raw materials into products through various processes, before the delivering to the customer. During the processing of raw materials (input) into finished products (output), value is added by the company.

A distinction can be made between different activities of a company: primary activities and supporting activities. Primary activities are directly involved in making the product and delivering it to the customer. Supporting activities are not directly involved in production, but may have an impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of production. An example of a supporting activity is Human Resource Management.

Eutrophication

The eutrophication of soil or water is a result of the release (emission) of nitrogenous substances. This mainly concerns nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ammonia (NH3). These substances can also be converted in the atmosphere into acids and dust-like air pollution, the so-called secondary particulate matter. All the substances mentioned can cause eutrophication after they have been deposited on the soil or surface water. This exposure can lead to damage to ecosystems, but the aerosol – as part of particulate matter – is also associated with health effects.

Waste

When producing goods, companies or organizations often produce waste. Not everything that is waste is actually ‘real’ waste. For example, by-products can also arise during the production phase which can be used for the production of other products. The popularity of the use of cradle-to-cradle materials is also increasing. These are materials that can be reused time and again in other products without any loss of quality. In other words: “Waste equals food”.

Yearly progress

When a company or organization has had an LCA made, it becomes clear what the impact is on the environment of a certain product (or that of the entire organization). It also becomes clear what certain ‘hotspots‘ are and in which area the most reduction of emissions can be realized. However, when a company or organization has taken various measures to reduce the environmental impact, you do not know to what extent the impact has been reduced. To find out, a company or organization can choose to have their environmental impact calculated annually. This way the annual progress can be tracked.

Zero measurement

As soon as companies and organizations know what their environmental impact is (through a LCA), it is possible to see where it is easiest to reduce the emissions that are caused. When measures have been taken to reduce these emissions, most companies are curious about how much they have reduced their environmental impact. To calculate this, it is necessary to have a second LCA made so it becomes clear what progress has been made. At the time of the comparison, the result of the first LCA performed is called the zero measurement. This way it becomes easier to map out the differences (improvements) and to clarify what the exact benefit has been from the measures taken.

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