Life Cycle Gap Analysis for Product Circularity and Sustainability—a Case Study with Three Different Products

Volumen:  4   |  Pages:  12   |  Year of Publication:  2021  | License:  CC BY 4.0

What is the objective?

The objective of this paper is the identification of gaps in life cycle assessment methodology in lieu of integrating circular economy considerations into LCA.

Our Short Summary.

This paper evaluates life cycle gaps of three products, plastic bottles (54%), rechargeable batteries (61%) and t-shirts (98%) and compares the three. It concludes that there is a large potential in improving current life cycle systems of several industries and product groups. Furthermore, a methodological weakness is also identified, i.e. the fact that a life cycle gap analysis assumes the general necessity of a product or service as opposed to evaluating whether circularity can be improved with more disruptive innovations.

Why you should read it!

The paper is a must-read for professionals and scholars in the LCA and circular economy disciplines.

Original Abstract

This paper aims to demonstrate the applicability and benefits of life cycle gap analyses for systematically integrating circular economy considerations into life cycle assessment. It presents life cycle gap analyses for three entirely different products (rechargeable batteries, T-shirts, plastic bottles), compares the applications and results, and draws conclusions on the usefulness of the method.

The case studies reveal life cycle gaps of 54% (plastic bottles), 61% (rechargeable batteries), and 98% (T-shirts), indicating high potential for further circularity improvements in the current life cycle systems of different industries and product groups. At the same time, a potential weakness of the method is underlined. Even considering options to increase circularity, life cycle gaps of at least 45% still exist, raising the question of what measures are really needed in order to achieve product circularity and sustainability. The analysis demonstrates the general applicability of life cycle gap analyses and their contribution to the integration of circular decision-making and life cycle thinking.

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