Sustainable Consumption

Project: Indicators and Assessment of the Environmental Impact of EU (LC-IND)

 

The European Commission is developing an assessment framework to monitor the evolution of the overall environmental impact associated to EU consumption, as policy tool supporting the transition to a resource efficient and circular economy.

This assessment framework is built on a “Consumption” based perspective in which environmental impacts along the products life cycle (raw material extraction, production, use phase, re-use/recycling and disposal) are allocated to the country where the consumption takes place (EU footprint) or to the consumer (EU consumer footprint) purchasing the goods. Therefore, based on trade statistics, environmental impacts of the production of imported goods consumed in EU are included in the analysis, while the impacts of production of exported goods are not taken into account.

The EU consumption is assessed within the framework through a set of indicators answering to the following questions:

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The indicators of EU consumer footprint are developed in a modular way based on Basket-of-products (BoP) indicators for 5 key consumption areas: Food, Housing, Mobility, Household goods and Electric/electronic appliances. These BoP indicators are then based on Life Cycle Assessment of products that fall under each consumption area, forming the respective product basket.

 

Environmental impact categories investigated

Within this framework, the potential environmental impacts due to EU consumption are assessed along the whole product life cycle, considering the following environmental impact categories:

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Based on these life cycle environmental impact indicators, a composite indicator will be developed to support policies on sustainable consumption.

The modeling assessment framework is designed to be both back- and forward-looking and to allow relative comparisons on different dimensions:

  • on a territorial basis and countries scores
  • on consumption areas e.g. impacts of Food versus impacts of Mobility
  • on product level (food product A versus food product B or an Ecolabelled versus a conventional product), and for performance assessment using overarching references like the planetary boundaries or a policy target in 2020

The established assessment framework may become a reference tool for scenarios & policies contributing to sustainable consumption.

 

The project in numbers

  • 15 impact categories assessed (using the ILCD impact assessment method) and development of one composite indicator
  • for the Consumer footprint  are the 5 key consumption areas: food, housing, mobility, household goods and electric/electronic appliances covered and  more than 70 life cycle assessment performed for product groups included  with more than  80 life cycle inventory models (LCI)  created
  • project is directly financed with 700.000€ and indirectly benefiting from the ap. 1.200.000€ of procurement contracts that are related to the Product Environmental Footprint Life cycle datasets and remodeling

Started on April 2015 with final results due to be delivered on June 2018.

 

Other activities

Booth at the Night of Researchers in Turin, showing how LCA and the Basket of Product indicators can help people to understand the environmental impact of food choices.

 

Publications  and dissemination

  • Papers published
    • Castellani V. Lorenzo B, Sala S (2017) Hotspots analysis and critical interpretation of food life cycle assessment studies for selecting eco-innovation options and for policy support Journal of Cleaner Production, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.05.078 (download)
    • Notarnicola B, Tassielli G, Renzulli PA, Castellani V, Sala S (2017) Environmental impact of food consumption in Europe. Journal of Cleaner Production, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.06.080 (download)
    • Castellani V, Benini L, Sala S, Pant R (2016) A distance-to-target weighting method for Europe 2020 International Journal of LCA, p. 1-11 doi: 10.1007/s11367-016-1079-8 (download)
    • Polizzi di Sorrentino E., Woelbert E., Sala S. (2016) Consumers and their behavior: state of the art in behavioral science supporting use phase modeling in LCA. International Journal of LCA, 21 (2): 237-251, doi:10.1007/s11367-015-1016-2 (download)
    • Benini L., Sala S (2016) Integrated assessment of environmental impact of Europe in 2010: uncertainty and sensitivity of the normalisation factors to methodological assumptions. International Journal of LCA, 21(2):224-236, doi: 10.1007/s11367-015-1013-5 (download)
    • Sala S., Benini L., Mancini L., Pant R. (2015) Integrated assessment of environmental impact of Europe in 2010: data sources and extrapolation strategies for calculating normalisation factors. International Journal of LCA, 20(11):1568-1585; DOI: 10.1007/s11367-015-0958-8 (download)
  • Conference presentations and posters
    • Corrado S, Castellani V, Zampori L, Sala S. (2015) Wheat of today and tomorrow: an assessment of current LCI inventories, oral presentation at the conference “LCA for feeding the planet and energy for life”, Stresa, 6th-7th October 2015
    • Corrado S, Castellani V, Zampori L, Sala S. (2016) Modelling agricultural production: systematic analysis of secondary Life Cycle Inventories, poster presentation at SETAC Europe annual meeting, Nantes, 22-26 May 2016
    • Notarnicola B, Tassielli G, Renzulli PA, Castellani V, Sala S (2016), Environmental Impact of food consumption in EU, oral presentation at SETAC Europe annual meeting, Nantes, 22-26 May 2016
    • Benini L, Secchi M, Castellani V, Boulay AM, Sala S (2016), Application of Environmental Impact models for water scarcity to a European basket of food products, oral presentation at 10th International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment of Food 2016, Dublin, 18-21 October 2016
    • Castellani V, Sala S, Benini L (2016), Food consumption in the EU: LCA and hotspot analysis to drive the selection of eco-innovation strategies, oral presentation at 10th International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment of Food 2016, Dublin, 18-21 October 2016

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