IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

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  • 1.
    Dahllöf, Lisbeth
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Linder, Marcus
    H.W. Boyer, Robert
    Vanacore, Emanuela
    Hunka, Agnieszka
    Product-level inherent circularity and its relationship to environmental impact2020In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, no 260Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Circular Economy scholarship has developed multiple metrics for assessing product-level circularity. To date, however, many product-level indicators either conflate circularity and environmental impact or have been validated using a very limited sample of products. This study applies a single metric, “C”, to a sample of 18 products in the Swedish marketplace and compares their C-scores with scores for lifecycle assessment (LCA). LCA scores for sample products are normalized by LCA scores of very similar reference products, allowing for comparison of LCAs across different product varieties. A test for correlation between products’ C-scores and LCA ratios reveals a strong, significant, and inverse association between levels of circularity and products’ relative environmental impact. The results offer evidence that products whose economic value is composed of relatively more recirculated material have a relatively low impact on the environment. Future research will benefit from applying similar tests to a broader variety of products and developing tools to expedite the accurate measurement of circularity and lifecycle impacts.

  • 2.
    Ekvall, Tomas
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Heimersson, S.
    Svanström, M.
    Opportunities of consequential and attributional modelling in life cycle assessment of wastewater and sludge management.2019In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, no 222, p. 242-251Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Despite general agreement on the importance of adjusting each life cycle assessment (LCA) to its goal, the methodological choices in previously published LCAs on wastewater and sludge management systems are surprisingly similar, even when the information sought in the studies most likely differ. We argue that the potential of LCA may not currently be fully utilised, partly due to particular methodological challenges arising in both attributional and consequential LCAs for this type of systems. By developing the theory for handling of allocation problems in attributional LCAs, and by elaborating on the different possible foreseeable consequences in consequential LCA, we aim to facilitate both attributional and consequential LCAs, and to show the importance of this choice for a specific wastewater and sludge management system.

  • 3.
    Hansson, Julia
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Developing Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment methodology by applying values-based sustainability weighting - Tested on biomass based and fossil transportation fuels2018In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 181, p. 337-351Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) methodology is applied for this assessment. LSCA often constitutes of the integration of results from social LCA (S-LCA), environmental life cycle assessment (E-LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC). In this study, an S-LCA from an earlier project is extended with a positive social aspect, as well as refined and detailed. E-LCA and LCC results are built from LCA database and literature. Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) methodology is applied to integrate the results from the three different assessments into an LCSA.

    The weighting of key sustainability dimensions in the MCDA is performed in different ways, where the sustainability dimensions are prioritized differently priority based on the assumed values of different stakeholder profiles (Egalitarian, Hierarchist, and Individualist). The developed methodology is tested on selected biomass based and fossil transportation fuels - ethanol produced from Brazilian sugarcane and US corn/maize, and petrol produced from Russian and Nigerian crude oils, where it delineates differences in sustainability performance between products assessed. The outcome in terms of relative ranking of the transportation fuel chains based on sustainability performance differs when applying different decision-maker profiles.

    This result highlights and supports views that there is no one single answer regarding which of the alternatives that is most sustainable. Rather, it depends strongly upon the worldview and values held by the decision maker. A key conclusion is that sustainability assessments should pay more attention to potential differences in underlying values held by key stakeholders in relevant societal contexts. The LCSA methodology still faces challenges regarding results integration but MCDA in combination with stakeholder profiles appears to be a useful approach to build on further.

  • 4.
    Harris, Steve
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Källmén, Albin
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Weinzettel, J.
    Bigano, A.
    Low carbon cities in 2050? GHG emissions of European cities using production-based and consumption-based emission accounting method2020In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, no 248, article id 119206Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The role of cities and their stakeholders in creating a sustainable low carbon society is becoming increasingly critical. Cities and their supply chains are responsible for almost 80% of the global energy consumption and over 60% of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). It is expected that 70% of the global population will be living in urban areas by 2050. However, in general cities still quantify and report only their production-based GHG emissions and fail to account for their supply chains. There has been much less focus on the GHG emissions associated with consumption in cities, including household and government consumption. This paper compares the production-based GHG accounting method with the consumption-based method for ten European cities. This is performed for a base year (2010) and two divergent future scenarios for 2050, a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario and a post carbon (PC 2050) scenario. The PC2050 scenario was created by city stakeholders in the framework of the European research project POCACITO in (2014–2016). Consumption-based emissions are calculated using the EXIOBASE multi-regional input-output model. Compared to 2010, both BAU and PC2050 scenarios show significant decreases for production-based emissions, falling 31% and 68% respectively. However, during this period consumption-based emissions increase for eight cities, rising 33% and 35% respectively. This occurs despite the modelled improvements in global production efficiency for 2050 and the significant production-based reductions under the PC2050 scenarios. The increase in consumption-based emissions is primarily linked to rising GDP and a corresponding increase in spending and consumption, which override the local and global efficiency improvements. Hence the results highlight a notable disparity between the traditional focus on production-based accounting and consumption-based accounting. This suggests that future city actions should extend their focus on addressing the impact of consumption in addition to local energy production and emissions. It also suggests that city stakeholders are generally underestimating the impact of consumption and the responses required.

  • 5.
    Harris, Steve
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    van Loon, P.
    Diener, D.
    Circular products and business models and environmental impact reductions: Current knowledge and knowledge gaps.2021In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 288, article id 125627Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The circular economy is billed as a solution to increase economic growth while reducing environmental impact. It is argued that retaining the value of products, components and materials by fostering the “inner loops”, such as reuse, refurbishment and remanufacturing, increases the resource-efficiency. However, published environmental assessments estimating the actual impact of these so-called circular outcomes are inconclusive. This paper presents the results of a systematic literature review of previous environmental assessments on circular products and circular business models, focusing on the tighter technical loops including reuse, refurbishment, and remanufacturing. Mapping reveals factors that influence the environmental impact of circular products and other aspects that should be incorporated in environmental assessments. Even though 239 papers were identified that discuss the environmental impact of circular products and/or circular business models, the far majority only considers a traditional product in a traditional sales model that is remanufactured and compares the impacts of remanufacturing with manufacturing new products. While it is important to quantify the impacts of remanufacturing, it is remarkable that product design strategies for circular economy (e.g. design for remanufacturing, upgradability, modularity) and product-service systems or other types of circular business models are usually not considered in the LCA studies. A lack of studies of products with so-called circular designs that are utilized within circular business models is apparent. In addition, many assessments are static analyses and limited consideration is given to future increases in the share of renewable energy. One can thus question how well the available environmental assessments quantify actual circular products/offerings and the environmental performance gains they could provide in a circular economy. The results show that there is an urgent need for more LCAs done in a way that better captures the potential benefits and deficiencies of circular products. Only then will it be possible to make robust claims about the environmental sustainability of circular products and circular business models and finally circular economy in total.

  • 6.
    Holmquist, Hanna
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Roos, Sandra
    Schellenberger, Steffen
    Jönsson, Christina
    Peters, Gregory
    What difference can drop-in substitution actually make? A life cycle assessment of alternative water repellent chemicals2021In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 329, p. 129661-129661, article id 129661Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    PFAS-related potential toxicity impacts as indicated by LCA results. Based on the results presented here, specific DWRs within the non-fluorinated DWR group could not be identified as preferable to others. This LCA does however provide a relevant starting point for more detailed studies on specific DWR systems and it supports moves to phase-out PFASs from non-essential DWR uses.

  • 7. Lassesson, Henric
    et al.
    Malovanyy, Andriy
    Andersson, Agata
    Optimizing resource flow of industrial processes, with a case study of zero liquid discharge at a copper smelting plant2021In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 286, p. 125452-125452, article id 125452Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The transition towards circular flows within industrial processes often involves assessment of only one type of flow. For example, zero liquid discharge sometimes focuses on water flows, without taking into consideration solid residues. It could however be possible to simultaneously optimize different types of resources, and consequently generate a higher economic yield, a reduced risk, and a reduced environmental impact. The purpose of this study was to find the best use for the solid residues from a zero liquid discharge wastewater treatment at a copper smelting plant. The result was a methodology for resource optimization, based on the principles of reduce, replace, reuse and recycle. The methodology involves relatively simple steps and could be used as a set of instructions for anyone working with resources in almost any industrial process. This methodology is expected to lower one barrier towards a more circular economy - by focusing on preventable losses of valuable resources in all forms (energy, water, and material) and by being simple to use, thereby improving the attitude and knowledge in industrial organizations. With the help of this methodology, it was concluded that the solid waste from the case study could be reduced by 58%–85%. A preliminary economic analysis showed that the operational cost for the optimized waste handling scheme is lower than in the base scenario. If all the proposed changes are fully realizable, the reduced waste will be a result of reduced use of resources in the process, reused resources within the process, and recovered resources which could be recycled and sold as by-products.

  • 8.
    Martin, Michael
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Life cycle assessments, carbon footprints and carbon visions: Analysing environmental systems analyses of transportation biofuels in Sweden2016In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, no 137, p. 249-257Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    To ensure the sustainable production and consumption of biofuels, an increasing body of scientific literature has become available in recent years focusing on the environmental impacts of biofuels. Whilst the climate change mitigation is perhaps the primary driver behind the promotion of biofuels, climate change is not the only crucial impact associated with biofuel production and consumption systems. This study aims at analysing the extent of the dominant focus on climate impacts in Swedish research applying environmental systems analysis (ESA) tools to investigate the environmental impacts of biofuels, and why this may exist.

    A systematic literature review of Swedish research applying ESA tools in the study of transportation biofuels between 2000 and 2015 was conducted; identifying 64 studies. The results indicate that studies using life cycle assessment include a range of impact categories in addition to climate impacts, e.g. acidification and eutrophication. However, when also considering environmental footprints (i.e., carbon and water footprints) and material flow analyses, the dominance of carbon footprints leads to an overly dominant focus on climate impacts at the expense of other impact categories. The consideration of environmental impacts other than those related to climate impacts is discussed in terms of the influence of the dominant science-policy framework in Sweden and study dependent variables, such as data uncertainty and methodological limitations. Whilst biofuel production is inextricably linked to climate policy, the environmental impacts of Swedish biofuel production and consumption should also consider the broader context of the Swedish National Environmental Objectives.

  • 9.
    Martin, Michael
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Heiska, Mirjami
    Björklund, Anna
    Environmental assessment of a product-service system for renting electric-powered tools2021In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 281, article id 125245Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    To address increasing environmental sustainability concerns among consumers, many companies have developed approaches to provide functions, rather than products through product-service systems (PSS). This study evaluates a use-oriented tool rental service from Husqvarna, called ‘Tools for you,’ with the aim to identify critical processes to improve the sustainability of the offering. The environmental implications of the system are assessed using life cycle assessment for the annual service of one electric chainsaw and compared with a conventional sales alternative. The results suggest that rental service is influenced extensively by the location of the rental depot. Furthermore, while the impacts of the product and accessories, infrastructure, waste management, and use are reduced compared to the sales alternative, their contribution is only minor compared to environmental impacts from transportation. The results are also sensitive to the methodological choices, where the lifetime of the products, data choices, transportation assumptions, maintenance intervals, and other user-related variables for the use of the products have a significant influence on the results. The conclusions confirm and extend previous assertions on the challenges of applying LCA to PSS and add to the emerging literature on sustainable business models through empirical evidence from a case study. The findings also point to the holistic insights required to optimize the potential environmental sustainability of the services for Husqvarna and other retailers interested in adopting use-oriented business models. Future research could focus on the geographical differences of the rental lockers worldwide, models for optimizing their location, in addition to further input on user behavior, and the role of refurbishment and remanufacturing for more robust analyses of the sustainability of PSS offerings.

  • 10.
    Oliveira, Felipe
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Laurenti, Rafael
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Selecting representative products for quantifying environmental impacts of consumption in urban areas.2017In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, no 162, p. 34–44-Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Populations are becoming more urban than rural, creating concentrated areas with high consumption of products. Understanding and influencing the environmental impact of consumption within cities becomes therefore increasingly important. Although there have been several studies evaluating the environmental impact of consumption at the global, national, and regional scale, there are few methods currently available to estimate impact at the urban level.

    There is therefore a need for a systematic approach to select appropriate, region-specific representative products. This study combines material flow analysis with life cycle assessment to select representative products that can be used as proxies to assess the environmental impact of urban areas using life cycle impact factors. The selection was based on the following criteria: the top consumed products within a product category, consistent products with respect to time and geography, and product types with known high environmental impact. The representative products were identified for three Swedish cities: Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, using sixteen years of annual urban-level material flow analysis data (1996–2011).

    A total of 71 products across 44 categories, were identified as representative of the 10,000 product types consumed in the urban areas analyzed. The method described in this study can be used by practitioners to identify representative products in any urban area with material flow data and allows for a more comprehensive and tailored analysis that what has been previously available.

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