Environmental impacts are divided into global (effects on a global scale), regional (effects on a regional scale), local impacts (effects on a local scale) and resource and energy consumptions Local impacts are not dealt with further in this book.
Global environmental impacts
Global environmental impacts comprise two parameters:
- Global warming (emissions – e.g. CO2)
- Ozone Depletion (emissions of CFC gases)
Regional environmental impacts
Regional environmental impacts comprise three parameters:
- Acid lakes, acid rain (acidification of soil and water)
- Algal blooms (eutrophication)
- Summer smog (photochemical ozone creation)
Resource and energy consumptions
In an LCA, two types of consumptions are assessed; use of abiotic resources like metals (materials) and use of fossil energy.
- Consumption of primary resources (depletion of abiotic resources – elements)
- Consumption of fossil fuels (depletion of abiotic resources – fossil fuels)
6.1.2 Other parameters of life cycle assessments
A carbon footprint is a subset of a full LCA, where only greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. CO2) are evaluated.
Cradle-to-gate is an assessment of a given product in which only the extraction of the raw materials (cradle), transport and production are included.
A cradle-to-grave assessment consists of a full life cycle assessment. It thus includes extraction of raw materials, manufacture of the product, use of the product and EOL.
Cradle-to-cradle is almost the same as cradle-to-grave but with a different approach to EOL. The approach is that all materials should always be recycled into new products. Hence chemicals should be used with great care in order to prevent discharge to the environment. In cradle-to-cradle, energy consumption is not taken into account because it is presumed that all energy is renewable (ECO platform, 2014).