Limitations And Trends

Data quality is an ongoing concern in LCA due in part to the newness of the field. Additional difficulties include:

• Lack of data or inaccessible data

• Time and cost constraints for compiling data

Performing an LCA is complex, but the time and expense required for this task may be reduced in the future. The methodology has advanced furthest in Europe where it is becoming part of public policy-making and environmental initiatives (C&E News 1994).

The discipline has produced the two following organizations dedicated to the methodology:

The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), founded in 1979 and currently based in Pensacola, Florida and in Brussels. Its members are individuals working to develop LCA into a rigorous science.

The Society for the Promotion of LCA Development (SPOLD), founded in 1992 and based in Brussels. Its members are companies who support LCA as a decision making tool.

SPOLD is conducting a feasibility study on creating a database of lifetime inventories for commodities such as basic chemical feedstocks, electricity, packaging, water, and services.

Another public information source is the Norwegian database on LCA and clean production technology, which is operated by the World Industries Committee for the Environment (WICE) in Frederickstad, Norway. Although it does not inventory data, the database lists LCAs with information on product type, functional units, and system boundaries. The database already contains fifty LCAs and can be accessed by computer modem (telephone: 47 69 186618). According to project coordinator Ole Hanssen (1993), WICE's long term objective is to integrate LCA with pollution prevention and process innovation.

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