Information about Life Cycle Assessment, S-ROI and Sustainability
Case Studies, Journal Articles, White Papers and more
EarthShift Global has performed hundreds of life cycle assessments and published case studies, white papers, and journal articles.
We've presented a sample of these resources below. If you are interested in more information on a particular topic, please contact us - we have a vast store of additional case studies and resources that may be exactly what you are looking for.
Biofine/NORA Study on GHG Emissions of Biomass-based Ethyl Levulinate
Biofine Developments Northeast (Biofine) has developed an advanced biofuel derived from lignocellulosic biomass, ethyl levulinate, that has potential application as a low-carbon heating fuel. This study was conducted by EarthShift Global for the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) and Biofine. This study and report were prepared according to ISO (2005; 2006) guidelines for an LCA to provide information for discussions with regulators and municipal planners. The study focuses only on greenhouse gas emissions (a single impact category), does not involve a comparative assessment and has been conducted for public disclosure, and thus has been critically reviewed.
Becton Dickinson ecoFinity Life Cycle Solution
BD ecoFinity® Life Cycle Solution Environmental Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) for acute care facilities seeking to reduce their environmental footprint, the BD ecoFinity Life Cycle Solution is the environmentally preferable disposal solution for single-use medical sharps, such as hypodermic needles and syringes. By implementing BD ecoFinity, hospitals can continue to realize the clinical advantages of BD's best-in-class single-use medical devices, while reducing the environmental impact of medication delivery.
nPulpTM Paper Packaging — YFY Group in China uses Green Chemistry to Address Air Quality
China's rapidly growing population and industry are leading to increased air pollution and dire health and economic impacts with global implications. A significant contributor to these issues is the standard local practice of burning straw residue from crops such as wheat and rice. In response to this alarming situation, YFY Group developed nPulp, a bio-based pulp product that utilizes straw waste to produce products such as paper, corrugated cardboard, and molded pulp packaging. The new breakthrough enzymatic process not only reduces harmful air emissions, but it also creates a market for what was once a waste product, providing an additional source of income for rural farmers.
Algae Biodiesel LCA Report
Article for The Journal of Environmental Management, Elsevier
Autotrophic microalgae represent a potential feedstock for transportation fuels that might produce lower greenhouse gas emissions and provide similar or lower net energy ratios (NERs) (energy in/energy out) when compared to petroleum diesel or other biodiesels. But life cycle assessment (LCA) studies based on laboratory-scale or theoretical data have shown mixed results. We attempt to bridge the gap between laboratory-scale and larger scale biodiesel production by using cultivation and harvesting data from a commercial algae producer and compare that with a hypothetical scaled-up facility.
Pilot Biofuels Project in Japan
Pilot biofuels projects in Japan have allowed a better understanding of the actual land use, processing requirements, and economic impacts of biofuels. Through the use of Total Cost Assessment (TCA), this study looks at the costs and benefits of Japanese investments in biofuels production in order to determine whether the projects are sustainable. Total Cost Assessment allows the enumeration of uncertain events with their concurrent costs and benefits, giving a financial picture of the future of a decision that includes best case, worst case, and most probable ranges of return on investment.
Sustainability Return on Investment: A Scenario-based Multi-criteria Assessment Tool for Policy-Making
SROI Scenario based multi-criteria assessment tool (PDF)
Policymakers use various tools to make decisions, looking at impacts to businesses, communities, and the environment. As systems become more complex, the trade-offs between different social and environmental impacts make a simple decision increasingly difficult. Many researchers have proposed Multicriteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) to assess the sustainability of decisions [1-3]. The methods proposed, however, often require academic involvement to analyze the alternatives against a set of complex weighting mechanisms. Even with a goal of transdisciplinarity, the methodologies often mask the process used to arrive at the conclusion.
Sustainability Return on Investment (S-ROI) originally developed as an industry MDCA tool, provides more transparency in how weights are defined and how they are applied. Like other MDCA tools, it allows for scenario development and associated probabilities. This methodology shows promise in its ability to assess the sustainability of policy from the perspective of the environment and groups affected by the decision.
Authors: Valentina Prado, Jesse Daystar, Steven Pires, Michele Wallace, Lise Laurin
American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
Abstract. Edible vegetable oils are a major source of climate change impacts and an environmental concern in the processed food industry. This study consists of a cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) of refined U.S. cottonseed oil (CSO), global soybean oil, U.S. canola oil, and palm oil sourced from Indonesia and Malaysia. Considering the oils equivalent for deep frying, they are compared on a 1 kg of oil basis. Analysis includes sensitivity analyses for modeling allocation choices and oil mixes as well as uncertainty analysis. Results show that the cultivation phase is the main impact driver for all vegetable oils analyzed, which favors CSO (U.S.) because it is a co-product. Refined CSO (U.S.) can reduce climate change impacts by up to 83%. Overall, refined CSO (U.S.) was a top performer in six of the eight impact categories evaluated. When ranking the oils, refined CSO (U.S.) was the preferred choice. Despite being the preferred choice, there are tradeoffs with CSO, such as water scarcity. In the context of global-scale commercial frying applications, e.g., McDonald‘s daily French fry production of 9 million tons per day, switching the frying oil to refined CSO (U.S.) represents potential savings of 1,130 to 2,188 tons of CO2-eq d-1. For fast-food chains seeking to reduce their climate change impacts, refined CSO (U.S.) may be useful in frying applications. However, opportunities may exist for improvement in water use efficiency in the cultivation phase, which reinforces the need for continuous improvements in agriculture.
Cost and Environmental Impact Assessment of Stainless Steel Microscale Chemical Reactor Components Using Conventional and Additive Manufacturing Processes
Authors: Kamyar Raoufia; Karl R. Haapalaa; Tom Etheridge; Sriram Manoharana; Brian K. Paulac
Journal of Manufacturing Systems
Modular chemical process intensification improves chemical processes by reducing capital investment, operating costs, and inefficiencies of chemical production. Process intensification is achieved using microscale operations and devices with high surface-to-volume ratios. Microscale chemical device components can be produced using additive manufacturing and conventional powder metallurgy processes. The technical and environmental advantages and disadvantages of these processes have been investigated individually. However, their relative sustainability performance requires further research. The objective of this research is to characterize the economic and environmental performance of metal additive manufacturing and powder metallurgy processes for producing a 316?l stainless steel microscale chemical reactor used in dimethyl ether production. Laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) and binder jet (BJ) additive technology, and metal injection molding (MIM) were studied for producing two reactor plates for a range of market sizes. To quantify cost and environmental impacts, manufacturing process design and life cycle assessment (LCA) methods were applied, respectively. Cost analysis showed MIM has significantly lower unit costs than BJ (by 11–30 %) and LPBF (by 62–82 %) for the range of production volumes studied. However, at low production volumes, LCA results indicated MIM has greater environmental impacts than BJ and LPBF, due to consumables. As production volume increases, environmental impacts per part reduce significantly (up to 85 %) for MIM due to amortization of impacts across more products. Raw materials and utilities have little sensitivity to production volume and are the main environmental impact drivers for BJ and LPBF. Process step yield directly impacts tool count, resulting in the highest sensitivity to unit cost for the three processes. This work reports on model development and a single use case, motivating future investigation to understand process suitability for a range of part sizes and geometries, as well as alternative production routes.
Authors: Zeynab Yousefzadeh; Shannon M. Lloyd
2021 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS)
Life cycle assessment (LCA), which provides a framework for assessing the potential environmental impact of technologies across their life cycle, has been identified as a potential tool for environmentally responsible innovation (RI). Traditional LCA approaches are insufficient for RI because they tend to be retrospective and underemphasize stakeholder engagement. Recent framing studies on LCA of emerging technology, which includes prospective LCA, suggest that uncertainty, data availability, methodological challenges, applicable evaluations techniques, and type of decisions supported are related to technology and market maturity. This study evaluates this framing based on two prospective LCAs of emerging technologies conducted by the authors. Uncertainty and methodological challenges were related to technology readiness. However, data availability was a challenge regardless of technology maturity, and was best addressed by engagement with technology developers and end-users. Furthermore, questions explored and evaluation techniques used were more diverse than those reported by the framing studies and were related to both analyst and stakeholder interests and technology and market maturity. While initial framing provides important guidance towards incorporating anticipation in prospective LCA, future interactions must not overlook the importance of engaging with stakeholders to guide model development and inform environmentally responsible development and innovation.
Authors: Valentina Prado, Jesse Daystar, Michele Wallace, Steven Pires, Lise Laurin
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
The Higg MSI is a widely used platform for the textiles and apparel industry in the support of their environmental sustainability strategies. While it provides important life cycle information, it can be difficult to interpret. Aggregated into an index as it used to be, or fragmented as of 2021, both can lead users to inefficient decision making. This article studies the problem of tradeoffs in the Higg MSI and provides recommendations going forward.
Energy Apportionment Approach to Incentivize Environmental Improvement Investments in the Chemical Industry
Valentina Prado, Rebecca Glaspie, Randy Waymire, Lise Laurin
Journal of Cleaner Production
Energy-intensive processing industries, such as the chemical industry, face barriers when justifying clean energy investments because costs of implementation for environmental impact reductions are too high relative to the perceived benefit. One way to lower the barrier for environmental investments within these industries is to create a business case with specialty products. The problem is that specialty products represent a small fraction of overall production, and clean energy upgrades to the company’s power production are typically shared among all products, diluting the value of the new investment. To incentivize environmental impact reducing investments this study illustrates an energy apportionment approach that concentrates the environmental improvements and costs strategically to the products where the market is willing to pay for the added value. The approach is illustrated via a case of a chemical plant where two types of upgrades (natural gas or solar) are considered according to costs and climate change impact reduction.
Life Cycle Assessment and Socioeconomic Evaluation of the Illicit Crop Substitution Policy in Colombia
Juanita Barrera-Ramírez, Valentina Prado, Håvar Solheim
Journal of Industrial Ecology
The peace treaty of Colombia contemplates a crop substitution policy seeking to replace coca crops with legal alternatives. Although crop substitution diverts funding of illegal activities and provides an income to farmers, it is important to understand how the change to a variety of legal crops (coffee, sugarcane, and cacao) affects the income of farmers, and whether there is an environmental advantage of a crop over another. This study applies life cycle assessment (LCA) coupled with socioeconomic indicators to two regions, Putumayo and Catatumbo, over different policy scenarios. LCA results show that a policy's success does not ensure a lower environmental impact across the board. Legal crops consume less fuel than coca crops, which reduces fuel?related impacts, but the use of fertilizer in coffee and pesticide use in sugarcane increase toxicity?related impacts. The results, however, are affected by a lack of characterization factors of agrochemicals, but once these are replaced by proxies, coca crops appear to have greater toxicity impacts. In terms of individual crops, cacao crops have a lower environmental impact than coffee and sugarcane, but it also takes the longest to harvest, which may pose a financial risk to farmers. The socio-economic analysis reveals that for Catatumbo farmers, a policy success reduces the income, whereas, for Putumayo farmers, a policy success increases income and job generation. In general, it was observed that the dynamics of the illegal supply chain vary for each region, influencing the environmental and socioeconomic outcome of the substitution policy.
Anticipatory Life Cycle Assessment for Responsible Research and Innovation
Ben A. Wender, Rider W. Foley, Troy A. Hottle, Jathan Sadowski, Valentina Prado-Lopez, Daniel A. Eisenberg, Lise Laurin & Thomas P. Seager (2014) Anticipatory life-cycle assessment for responsible research and innovation, Journal of Responsible Innovation, 1:2, 200-207, DOI: 10.1080/23299460.2014.920121
The goal of guiding innovation toward beneficial social and environmental outcomes – referred to in the growing literature as responsible research and innovation (RRI) – is intuitively worthwhile but lacks practicable tools for implementation.
One potentially useful tool is life-cycle assessment (LCA), which is a comprehensive framework used to evaluate the environmental impacts of products, processes, and technologies. However, LCA ineffectively promotes RRI for at least two reasons:
- Codified approaches to LCA are largely retrospective, relying heavily on data collected from mature industries with existing supply chains and
- LCA underemphasizes the importance of stakeholder engagement to inform critical modeling decisions which diminishes the social credibility and relevance of results.
LCA researchers have made piecemeal advances that address these shortcomings, yet there is no consensus regarding how to advance LCA to support RRI of emerging technologies. This paper advocates for the development of anticipatory LCA as non-predictive and inclusive of uncertainty, which can be used to explore both reasonable and extreme-case scenarios of future environmental burdens associated with emerging technology.
By identifying the most relevant uncertainties and engaging research and development decision-makers, such anticipatory methods can generate alternative research agenda and provide a practicable tool to promote environmental RRI.
A Life Cycle Assessment of Packaging Options for Contrast Media Delivery: Comparing Polymer Bottle vs. Glass Bottle (PDF)
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, (December 2014)
This paper compares the environmental impacts of two packaging options for contrast media offered by GE Healthcare: +PLUSPAK™ polymer bottle and traditional glass bottle. The study includes all relevant life cycle stages from manufacturing to use and final disposal of the bottles and includes evaluation of a variety of end-of-life disposal scenarios. The study was performed in accordance with the international standards ISO 14040/14044, and a third-party critical review was conducted.
LCA Comparison of Flexible Packaging Printing
Hewlett Packard (HP) White Paper: Low Environmental Impact Printing with HP Indigo Digital Presses For Production of Flexible Packaging
Presented at ISIE and ISSST Joint Conference
Nathan Ayer, Lise Laurin — EarthShift Global and Tom Etheridge, Mach Machikawa, Noa Falk Yogev — HP Inc.
Handling Recycling in Life Cycle Assessment
Navigating the Critical Review Process
White Paper: Navigating the Critical Review Process
The ISO critical review process for LCAs is intended to provide assurance to the study’s commissioner that the analysis was completed in compliance with the ISO guidelines for LCA. A poorly executed peer or critical review can be very costly and time consuming, so it is in your best interest to be proactive and ensure that the process runs smoothly. We provide best practices and helpful tips on how to be more strategic, avoid common pitfalls and utilize forward thinking to providing effective, ongoing communication with the review panel.
Danisco Assessed the Sustainability of Xylitol (XIVIATM)
White Paper: Production to Guide Product Development Efforts
Environmental and social impacts can occur throughout a product's life cycle. Danisco fine-tuned their approach to include Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and environmental footprinting to guide product development efforts towards reducing their impact and to provide quantitative impact data to their customers, retailers, and consumers. XIVIA is a sustainable, naturally occurring sweetener with all the sweetness of sugar but with 40% fewer calories.