Streamlined life cycle assessment: A case study on tablets and integrated circuits Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • © 2018 Elsevier Ltd Life cycle assessments (LCAs) provide valuable guidance regarding environmental implications of design and manufacturing choice; however, they remain resource intensive and time consuming. Streamlining approaches have been developed to address these issues. One of these streamlining approaches, structured under-specification and probabilistic triage, develops a high level assessment of the product or service in question, and only obtains more data on those parameters that contribute most both to the uncertainty and the total impact. In this paper, we build upon the structured under-specification and probabilistic triage methodology and include metrics to determine when sufficient data has been collected. This method enables significant reduction in effort to conduct an LCA while still preserving the ability to make resolvable conclusions around environmental choice related to reducing the impact of manufacturing these devices. We demonstrate the efficiency and effectiveness of this methodology on a case study of tablets for which we determine the burden of the product with 30% of the total effort required in a traditional LCA approach, thereby more readily focusing efforts for impact mitigation. We find that the life cycle environmental impact of the product is driven by the materials and manufacturing phase, more specifically the manufacturing of electronic components such as integrated circuits and printed wiring boards.

author list (cited authors)

  • Alcaraz, M. L., Noshadravan, A., Zgola, M., Kirchain, R. E., & Olivetti, E. A.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • November 2018