Data quality is a critical issue for life cycle thinking and its application

Product Ecology™ and its Lifecycle Designer tool is informed and underpinned by the ecoinvent database (v2.0)

Created in 1997, the ecoinvent Centre (originally called the Swiss Centre for Life Cycle Inventories) is a Competence Centre of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH Zurich), the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (Empa), and the Swiss Federal Research Station Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon (ART). The ecoinvent Centre is the world’s leading supplier of consistent and transparent life cycle inventory (LCI) data of known quality with the database ecoinvent data v2.1 and offers science-based, industrial, international life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle management (LCM) data and services.

Product Ecology™ depends on the ecoinvent database (v2.0) because:

  • it contains international industrial life cycle inventory data on energy supply, resource extraction, material supply, chemicals, metals, agriculture, waste management services, and transport services;
  • it is used by more than 1500 users in more than 40 countries worldwide and is included in the leading LCA software tools as well as in various eco-design tools for building and construction, waste management or product design.

In particular, Product Ecology’s Lifecycle Design tool, utilizes ecoinvent datasets (specifically the LCIA data), to provide our users with an uncomplicated way viewing a selection of impact categories (e.g. Global Warming, Solid Waste and Water Use). We have selected materials, process, transportation, energy and waste categories of greatest interest and Impact Assessment Categories which cover a sample of environmental impacts. We intend to provide additional impact categories in future releases and subject to user-feedback.

To learn more about the LCIA data the following documents provide a useful background to understand the LCIA methodologies. A particularly useful document to understand the ecoinvent database is Overview and Methodology Data v2.0 (2007).  Furthermore, a full description of the Implementation of Life Cycle Impact Assessment Methods Data v2.0 (2007) is available.

LCA Data and Product Ecology™

It is important to note that Product Ecology™ is not LCA software, but a tool to facilitate, encourage and inform life cycle thinking among product developers and companies.

With this in mind we have been selective as to the impact categories used in Product Ecology™.  Specifically the Impact Categories we use are:

  • Climate Change – utilises the CML 2001 (Center of Environmental Science of Leiden University) data sets with the GWP 100a (Global Warming Potential over 100 years), which the most common methodology for measuring Climate Change. The units originally in the EcoInvent database was kg C02 equivalent. We have converted these to tonnes Co2 equivalent so the numbers provided are more manageable for users. These are Global results.
  • Waste – utilises the EDIP 2003 (Environmental Design of Industrial Products 2003) data sets with a unit of kg of bulk waste, this is assuming that the product is general waste in most cases.
  • Water Use – includes data from the EcoInvent Data is noted as being derived from selected LCI results and is measured in cubic metres of water.

If you have specific inquiries about the data we use in Product Ecology™ or how it underpins our Lifecycle Designer tool, please contact us at:  askus@productecologyonline.com

For more detailed information about the ecoinvent database, visit their web site:  www.ecoinvent.org