In the context of sustainable consumption, waste prevention behaviors should be quantitatively evaluated from the viewpoints of not only household waste generation but also life-cycle environmental loads such as greenhouse gas emissions. In this study, five case studies of consumption behaviors, including choices between single-use and refillable detergent containers, and between reheating rice and keeping it hot, were evaluated as life-cycle environmental indicators of global warming potential, acidification potential, fossil resource consumption, and final waste disposal, as well as household waste generation. Alternatives to each consumption behavior were given that had the same fundamental function from the consumer viewpoint. The results showed that some alternative consumption behaviors whose household waste generation was lower had higher life-cycle environmental loads, indicating that quantitative evaluation is required to determine whether behaviors reduce life-cycle environmental loads before promoting waste generation behaviors. However, the results also indicate that household waste generation can be a benchmark for life-cycle environmental loads provided that products are made from the same material and that no energy such as electricity is consumed in the alternative behaviors.
2012 SOCIETY OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE, JAPAN