Comparative assessment of life cycle assessment methods used for personal computers.
ABSTRACT This article begins with a summary of findings from commonly cited life cycle assessments (LCA) of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products. While differing conclusions regarding environmental impact are expected across product segments (mobile phones, personal computers, servers, etc.) significant variation and conflicting conclusions are observed even within product segments such as the desktop Personal Computer (PC). This lack of consistent conclusions and accurate data limits the effectiveness of LCA to influence policy and product design decisions. From 1997 to 2010, the majority of published studies focused on the PC concluded that the use phase contributes most to the life cycle energy demand of PC products with a handful of studies suggesting that manufacturing phase of the PC has the largest impact. The purpose of this article is to critically review these studies in order to analyze sources of uncertainty, including factors that extend beyond data quality to the models and assumptions used. These findings suggest existing methods to combine process-based LCA data with product price data and remaining value adjustments are not reliable in conducting life cycle assessments for PC products. Recommendations are provided to assist future LCA work.
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ABSTRACT: This paper describes the life cycle engineering of an integrated desktop computer system from the perspective of a small to medium enterprise (SME). Using a novel approach which considers the motivations of actors at various stages during the life cycle of the PC it attempts to engineer the lifecycle through design features which have been chosen to influence these critical decision points leading to more desirable pathways from an environmental perspective. Using these motivations it extracts design principles and ultimately design and service features to (1) promote long lifetime with the original user (2) facilitate refurbishment and reuse (3) be easy to disassemble and (4) contain minimal valueless fractions at end of life. This has been achieved largely through two specific design features and supported by post-sale services to the consumer. The first of these features is a high quality finish using a solid hardwood chassis to create an emotionally durable product that is easy to refurbish and eliminates negative value plastic fractions at end of life. The second feature is a strong focus on ease of disassembly to facilitate upgrade, refurbishment and deep disassembly at end of life. The service offering is also crucial and upgrade services and buy back are available.Journal of Cleaner Production 07/2014; · 3.59 Impact Factor
- Annual Review of Environment and Resources 10/2013; 38(1):311. · 4.97 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Purpose The possibilities for full life cycle assessment (LCA) of new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products are often limited, so simplification approaches are needed. The aim of this paper is to investigate possible simplifications in LCA of a mobile phone and to use the results to discuss the possibilities of LCA simplifications for ICT products in a broader sense. Another aim is to identify processes and data that are sensitive to different methodological choices and assumptions related to the environmental impacts of a mobile phone. Methods Different approaches to a reference LCA of a mobile phone was tested: (1) excluding environmental impact categories, (2) excluding life cycle stages/processes, (3) using secondary process data from generic databases, (4) using input-output data and (5) using a simple linear relationship between mass and embodied emissions. Results and discussion It was not possible to identify one or a few impact categories representative of all others. If several impact categories would be excluded, information would be lost. A precautionary approach of not excluding impact categories is therefore recommended since impacts from the different life cycle stages vary between impact categories. Regarding use of secondary data for an ICT product similar to that studied here, we recommend prioritising collection of primary (specific) data on energy use during production and use, key component data (primarily integrated circuits) and process-specific data regarding raw material acquisition of specific metals (e.g. gold) and air transport. If secondary data are used for important processes, the scaling is crucial. The use of input-output data can be a considerable simplification and is probably best used to avoid data gaps when more specific data are lacking. Conclusions Further studies are needed to provide for simplified LCAs for ICT products. In particular, the end-of-life treatment stage need to be further addressed, as it could not be investigated here for all simplifications due to data gaps.The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 05/2014; 19(5):979-993. · 3.09 Impact Factor