EarthShift Global Sustainability News Articles

Impact Categories for Life Cycle Assessment Research of Seafood Production Systems: Review and Prospectus

Authors:  Nathan L. Pelletier, Nathan W. Ayer, Peter H. Tyedmers, Sarah A. Kruse, Anna Flysjo, Greg Robillard, Friederike Ziegler, Astrid J. Scholz, Ulf Sonesson
 
Goal, Scope and Background
 
In face of continued declines in global fisheries landings and concurrent rapid aquaculture development, the sustainability of seafood production is of increasing concern. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) offers a convenient means of quantifying the impacts associated with many of the energetic and material inputs and outputs in these industries. However, the relevant but limited suite of impact categories currently used in most LCA research fails to capture a number of important environmental and social burdens unique to fisheries and aquaculture. This article reviews the impact categories used in published LCA research of seafood production to date, reports on a number of methodological innovations, and discusses the challenges to and opportunities for further impact category developments.
 
Main Features
 
The range of environmental and socio-economic impacts associated with fisheries and aquaculture production are introduced, and both the commonly used and innovative impact categories employed in published LCA research of seafood production are discussed. Methodological innovations reported in agricultural LCAs are also reviewed for possible applications to seafood LCA research. Challenges and options for including additional environmental and socioeconomic impact categories are explored.
 
Results
 
A review of published LCA research in fisheries and aquaculture indicates the frequent use of traditional environmental impact categories as well as a number of interesting departures from the standard suite of categories employed in LCA studies in other sectors. Notable examples include the modeling of benthic impacts, by-catch, emissions from anti-fouling paints, and the use of Net Primary Productivity appropriation to characterize biotic resource use. Socio-economic impacts have not been quantified, nor does a generally accepted methodology for their consideration exist. However, a number of potential frameworks for the integration of such impacts into LCA have been proposed.
 
Discussion
 
LCA analyses of fisheries and aquaculture call attention to an important range of environmental interactions that are usually not considered in discussions of sustainability in the seafood sector. These include energy use, biotic resource use, and the toxicity of anti-fouling paints. However, certain important impacts are also currently overlooked in such research. While prospects clearly exist for improving and expanding on recent additions to environmental impact categories, the nature of the LCA framework may preclude treatment of some of these impacts. Socio-economic impact categories have only been described in a qualitative manner. Despite a number of challenges, significant opportunities exist to quantify several important socio-economic impacts.
 
Conclusion
 
The limited but increasing volume of LCA research of industrial fisheries and aquaculture indicates a growing interest in the use of LCA methodology to understand and improve the sustainability performance of seafood production systems. Recent impact category innovations, and the potential for further impact category developments that account for several of the unique interactions characteristic of fisheries and aquaculture will significantly improve the usefulness of LCA in this context, although quantitative analysis of certain types of impacts may remain beyond the scope of the LCA framework. The desirability of incorporating socio-economic impacts is clear, but such integration will require considerable methodological development.
 
Recommendations and Perspectives
 
While the quantity of published LCA research for seafood production systems is clearly increasing, the influence this research will have on the ground remains to be seen. In part, this will depend on the ability of LCA researchers to advance methodological innovations that enable consideration of a broader range of impacts specific to seafood production. It will also depend on the ability of researchers to communicate with a broader audience than the currently narrow LCA community.
 
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
September 2007, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 414–421

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Keeping the Competitive Edge

Authors;  Lise Laurin
 
Abstract:
 
Applying the total cost assessment (TCA) methodology, which accounts for intangibles, to internal decision-making processes provides a more complete evaluation of costs and benefits with the risks associated with them. It aids managers in making informed decisions about environmental, health, safety and even societal opportunities and impacts.
 
Chemical Engineering Process
2007
 
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Wise Energy Investment Decisions – Not Just kj Out / kj In

Author:  Lise Laurin
 
Abstract:
 
While the best energy solutions may seem obvious to the LCA community, we often see wind turbines voted down for aesthetics and policy makers leaning toward solutions that show poor return, kilojoule per kilojoule. If we are to move forward with wise energy solutions, we will need to broaden our perspective to include the social impacts that influence policy-makers and communities, creating a decision-system that encompasses both social and environmental impacts.
 
Starting with LCA and Total Cost Assessment, a case study of a biodiesel facility in Vermont begins to incorporate social goals with reduced environmental impacts. We'll then look at other energy systems and how these decision-making tools might be used to bring policy makers, environmentalists, and communities together making wise energy choices for our future.
 
MRS Proceedings, Volume 1041
January 2007, 1041-R05-05
 
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Automated LCA: A Practical Solution for Electronics Manufacturers?

Authors:  Lise Laurin, M. Goedkoop, G. Norris
 
Abstract:
 
Manufacturers in the electronics industry are faced with product shelf life counted in months (Goeing, 2004). Traditionally, this has made it very difficult to make a life cycle assessment (LCA) of a product, since the product would be obsolete by the time the LCA was completed. New concepts in LCA allow specialists in things other than LCA to rapidly create both a model and generate "what-if" scenarios that will allow even manufacturers of short shelf life products take advantage of the benefits of LCA. Results can be used internally for decision-making and can also enable manufacturers submit information for environmentally preferable purchasing, eco-labels, and so-on.
 
Electronics and the Environment 2006.
Proceedings of the 2006 IEEE International Symposium on Electronics and the Environment. 8-11 May 2006
 

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Practical LCA for Short Shelf Life Products

Authors:  Lise Laurin, M. Goedkoop, G. Norris
 
Abstract:
 
Manufacturers in many of today's industries are faced with product shelf life counted in months. Traditionally, this has made it very difficult to make a life cycle assessment (LCA) of a product, since the product would be obsolete by the time the LCA was completed. A new concept in LCA that allows specialists in things other than LCA to rapidly create both a model and generate "what-if" scenarios will allow even manufacturers of short shelf life products take advantage of the benefits of LCA. These industry-specific "wizards" are built around a manufacturing process and can be rapidly updated or customized to a particular manufacturer or process type. Results can be used internally for decision-making and can also enable manufacturers submit information for environmentally preferable purchasing, eco-labels, etc.
 
Proc. SPIE 5997
Environmentally Conscious Manufacturing V, 59970G (November 07, 2005)
 

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