The tremendous numbers of the results of LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) studies have been reported recently in the environmental reports of the private companies, and the type III label called as “Eco-Leaf” has been implemented since 2002 in Japan. These are evidences that LCA are used nowadays as a practical tool in the companies for the evaluation of the environmental impacts and improvement of the industrial products. Besides, as the case studies using LCA to evaluate agriculture products and social infrastructure such as energy systems as well as industrial products have been reported in the scientific journals and the new approaches regarding Life Cycle Management based on Life Cycle Thinking such as Life Cycle Costing have been developed recently, the concepts and tools related to LCA seem to be successful enough to support the environmental activities of many stakeholders toward the sustainable society. However, in the same time, it can be thought that the direction of the researches and studies on LCA spread too diffusely not to be able to see the future tasks. In this report, the trend of the discussions and studies related to LCA in the international networks are overviewed from the author’s experiences. It might be useful to catch the future movement of LCA internationally.
Progress in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and related research fields has been reviewed based on the author’s own experiences. The origin of his LCA research is characterized by strong influence by energy analysis and application of economic input-output analysis. Many lessons are learned through interactions with international research communities of LCA and other related field of research, in particular, industrial ecology. Results from his past studies as well as current concerns are summarized. They include case studies on automobiles and other transport systems, a site-dependent impact assessment method of air emissions, inventory analyses and allocation problems for upstream and downstream processes, valuation methods in impact assessment, and inventory database based in input output tables. Expectations to ILCAJ are as follows; core activities on LCA itself; strengthening international collaborations and dissemination of Japanese experiences; further integration of LCA and other related studies. (141 words)
The article describes the history of LCA focusing on energy technologies. LCA of energy technologies is the energy analysis in origin, developed in the 1970s. In the 1990s a lot of studies on LCA were performed in universities and energy related organizations due to high concern for global warming issues. In the article outline of the inventory analysis are also explained on power generation technologies of fossil fuels, nuclear, renewable energy and cogeneration.
The LCA is a useful tool in management of urban environment. As urban activity often depends on material supply from outside, evaluation of both direct and induced environmental loading is necessary to know the environmental performance of the city. City scale input-output table analysis can demonstrate such direct and induced loading. LCA is also necessary to evaluate various policies especially when material saving or recycle is their target. Environmental technology often brings trade-off among environmental loadings. The simplest trade-off is within same type of environmental loading such as carbon dioxide. The case study of heat recovery in urban solid waste incineration plant shows that net reduction of environmental loading very much depends on the condition of applied district. The other trade-off is between different types of environmental loading. Typical example is wastewater treatment which reduces water pollutants whereas it emits carbon dioxide. Monetary evaluation is one method to compare such trade-off. An example in Japanese lake shows that benefit from improvement of lake water quality is significantly higher than the damage caused by carbon dioxide and other air pollutants emission throughout the life cycle. The trade-off between human health risk and environmental loading may be compared based on DALY (Disability Adjusted Life-Years) value. Application of LCA to strategic environmental impact assessment is not yet realized but promising.
A combined use of input-output analysis (IOA) and the traditional process-based method has become a standard tool of LCA owing primarily to the public availability of data, ease of computation, and the well-defined system boundary. IOA, however, is not appropriate to deal with issues related to waste management, because it does not consider the flow of waste. To cope with this problem, I elsewhere have developed a new hybrid methodology called Waste IO (WIO) that explicitly considers the interdependence between the flow of both goods (and services) and waste. This article describes the process in which WIO has been developed, reviews its recent applications, and points out its possible future directions.
In this paper, proposed was a new evaluating indicator, a kind of sustainable indicator, using LCIA together with economical and beneficial evaluation simultaneously. First, surveyed were existing evaluation methodologies like “Eco-Efficiency” by WBCSD, etc. Then a new evaluation indicator was proposed and applied to recycling issues of specific waste plastics and public sewage treatment process. Our indicator is unique, in which three aspects, i.e. Benefit, Ecology and Economy are considered together. This study will give an helpful information to the people who are thinking of application of LCIA
NEC had started LCA-Study in 1993 and constructed its own LCA-system with LCI database in 1997. In this period, we have been carrying out a lot of LCA studies and completed LCA for all NEC product-groups, which have about 80 categories, by 2001. And also, we have developed the LCA-Tool called “Jemai-LCA”, which is the first LCA Software in Japan. Since 1998, NEC began the LCA studies for services, software and systems which consisted of software and hardware. Through these studies, we established the methodology for Environmental assessment of IT-Solutions.
NEC is trying to expand our LCA methodology and database to other applications for environmental evaluation of management activities, such as Environmental Management Indicators, Business-activities and Social-activities. We can have good effectiveness in such applications from results of these LCA studies.
In this paper, listed are the articles related to LCA which have been published in Japanese scientific journals with peer review during 1990-2004. Articles in 26 Japanese scientific journals have been queried on “Life Cycle Assessment”, “Life Cycle Analysis”. “LCA”, “LCI” and “LCIA”. 162 articles related to LCA have been on list and sorted into 25 categories.