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Sustainability 2014, 6(9), 6158-6169; doi:10.3390/su6096158

Life Cycle Inventory Analysis of Recycling: Mathematical and Graphical Frameworks

Department of Urban Engineering, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan
Received: 4 July 2014 / Accepted: 4 September 2014 / Published: 10 September 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environment and Energy: the Industrial Ecology perspective)
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Abstract

A mathematical framework of the life cycle inventory (LCI) analysis in life cycle assessment (LCA) of recycling is systematically reviewed with the aid of graphical interpretation. First, the zero burden approach, which has been applied to LCI analyses of waste management systems, is theoretically justified in terms of relative comparison of waste management options. As recycling is a multi-functional system including the dual functions of waste management and secondary material production, the allocation issue needs to be handled in LCIs of recycling, and two forms of system expansion, i.e., the avoided burden and product basket approaches, have dominated to avoid the allocation problem. Then, it is demonstrated that conclusions derived from both approaches should mathematically be identical as far as system boundaries are correctly defined. A criticism against system expansion is also reviewed from the viewpoint of ambiguity of what-if scenarios. As an approach to this issue, market-based consequential LCA is discussed in the context of LCI analyses of open-loop recycling. View Full-Text
Keywords: zero burden approach; system expansion; avoided burden approach; product basket approach; what-if scenario; consequential LCA zero burden approach; system expansion; avoided burden approach; product basket approach; what-if scenario; consequential LCA
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Nakatani, J. Life Cycle Inventory Analysis of Recycling: Mathematical and Graphical Frameworks. Sustainability 2014, 6, 6158-6169.

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