Modeling recycling in life cycle assessment

Swedish companies, researchers and authorities cooperated in this project with an aim to collect and disseminate knowledge on existing approaches to allocation at open-loop recycling, to systematically assess these methods, test them in case studies, and to investigate to what extent consensus can be reached among the Swedish actors on how recycling should be modelled in a life cycle assessment.

Summary

The method for modeling material recycling can have a decisive impact on the environmental assessment of products if they have a high content of recycled material or if they are recycled after use. The recent EU guideline on Product Environmental Footprint includes a rather complex approach. In response to this, the Swedish Life Cycle Center gathered companies, researchers and authorities in this project aiming to collect and disseminate knowledge on existing approaches to allocation at open-loop recycling, to systematically assess these methods, test them in case studies, and to investigate to what extent consensus can be reached among the Swedish actors on how recycling should be modelled in an LCA.

Information on twelve existing approaches is collected through a literature survey covering international standards, important guidelines and a selection of scientific papers. They are assessed with a set of indicators developed based on the view that methods for environmental systems analysis are good to the extent that they can be assumed to contribute to reduced environmental impacts or, at least, to reduced environmental impacts per functional unit. After case-studies and a debate, we present an application-dependent structure for requirements on the methods for modelling recycling in life cycle assessments.

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Last updated: 2021-05-05

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

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IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute has a wide environmental profile. We combine applied research and development with close collaboration between industry and the public sphere. Our consultancy is evidence-based, and our research is characterized by interdisciplinary science and system thinking.

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