The International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment in Latin America (CILCA) is an event which is carried out every two years in different countries within Latin America, it assembles experts and actors interested in Life Cycle Assessment from all the globe. During the first week of June, the event was held virtually in Argentina, it was organized by RICV, RACV and RAHH. EcoEd participated in the event with presentations of four life cycle assessment projects from different fields (technology, construction, clothing and business).
Here you can find summaries for each project:
Life cycle assessment of a refurbished smartphone in Chile
A complete life cycle assessment (LCA) on a refurbished high-end smartphone in Chile is conducted to find out its environmental impacts and evaluate potential advantages compared to a new one and a modular alternative.
The scope of the study was cradle to grave and the functional unit was the daily use of a RePhone iP8 64 GB for 3 years, including video,, audio and Internet. For the modelling, the OpenLCA 1.10 software with Ecoinvent 2.2 databases and ReCiPe (hierarchical) assessment method at midpoint level were used.
Compared to an Iphone, RePhone requires 87% less virgin materials and a reduction of 46 Kg of CO2. eq (81%). For the other impact categories, it was compared to a FairPhone and for all of them RePhone present a lower result. Regarding the production phase, the import contributes mainly to stratospheric ozone formation (56%) and fossil resources depletion (52%).Electricity used for recharges contributes particularly to fine particulate matter formation (49%) and freshwater eutrophication (36%). Battery and screen replacements contribute to more than 50% of the total impact for the following categories: stratospheric ozone depletion (75%), marine water eutrophication (68%), climate change (59%), and water consumption (59%).
It is concluded that the refurbished mobile phone has lower environmental impact compared to the other phones.
Challenges to quantify the life cycle carbon footprint of buildings in Chile
The life cycle of housing and commercial buildings is responsible for 17.5% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, higher than the entire transport industry, which is responsible for 15.9% (World Resources Institute 2020). Hence, to reach the Paris Agreement targets, it is vital to manage the greenhouse gas emissions coming from the construction industry and its entire life cycle.ís.
To quantify the life cycle carbon footprint of buildings at a large scale, at least three components are necessary: standardized methodologies for data collection, systems for Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV), and carbon footprint calculators for buildings and construction materials.
This study analyses the national and international state of the art and identifies the existing gaps to successfully implement each one of these components in Chile. Applications are considered at the product (e.g., cement, steel), industry (e.g., associations, constructing companies) and public sector levels (e.g., ministries and government agencies).
This study analyses more than 20 certification systems, methodologies and databases, as well as 30 carbon footprint calculators for the construction sector. This information is systematized in a matrix showing which life cycle stages are in the scope of each analysed element, following the ISO 21930:2017 norm (Rodríguez et al.2019). With this information an ideal scenario for the country is defined.
This information is complemented with a qualitative analysis of the current state of the industry in Chile. This allows identification of gaps to implement a national system for measuring the carbon footprint in the full life cycle of buildings.
Life cycle assessment for the eco-design of a cotton baby clothing collection in Chile
An expansible collection of baby clothing was eco designed (comprised of a one-piece pyjama, a bodysuit, a pair of pants and a romper) whose size can be adjusted to fit a baby in its first year of life. These are expected to replace their traditional models of sizes 0-3, 3-6 and 6-12 months for just one 0-12 size.
The functional unit of analysis is "to dress a baby in cotton clothing for one year" and the scope of study is from cradle to gate. The collection considers the focus garments (i.e., pyjamas) and their regular wear accessories (i.e., socks). A comparative LCA was performed between traditional (three sizes per year) and eco designed (one size per year) collections.
For the modelling, OpenLCA 1.10 software was used with Ecoinvent 2.2 and Agribalyse databases 3.0 and ReCiPe (Hierarchical) impact method at endpoint level.
The critical factor for eco design was the cotton (83.7% of impacts), followed by metal snaps (7.3%) and airplane transportation (7.2%). Therefore, the eco design focuses on reducing the use of cotton.
The reduction of impacts between traditional and eco designed garments was on average 67%. However, this is reduced to 28% when the entire collections (garments and accessories) are considered. This shows the importance of a correct definition of the functional unit for the communication of results to stakeholders about the real benefits of eco design projects.
Assessment of the priority of Latin American companies in life cycle management
This study evaluates the progress of life cycle management in 773 companies in Latin America of multiple sizes and industrial sectors.. The objective is to identify how the companies are focusing their life cycle management efforts.
The data are collected from a survey based on a capability maturity model for lifeócycle assessment that evaluatesúthe company's sustainabilityómanagement in four dimensions: management policies, indicator-based management, supply chain management, and management of use and end of life..
The results show that 90% of companies have some degree of sustainable management, however still at initial stages of life cycle management.
Companies prioritize the management of use and end of life with focus on waste reduction. However, there’s argument that other action areas could generate better economic and environmental returns, such as energy efficiency that reduces costs and traceability that is a differential for exporting.
It is concluded that companies should incorporate more life cycle thinking and the use of indicators to guide business decisions that would have a more positive impact in the environment to their business.