4. Identification of Environmental Performance Indicators to be Used for Comparison of Cleaner Techn

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4. Identification of Environmental Performance Indicators to be Used for Comparison of Cleaner Techn


4.1 Overview of the four Focus Areas


The areas of activity in industrial society considered to create the most critical environmental impacts in the future are identified by:

  • roughly assessing and evaluating the existing, available knowledge of today's environmental impacts on a global scale and their causes, combined with
  • the scenario of global economic growth during the coming decades. This is based on present growth rates in South East Asia especially and various forecasts, implying a possible growth factor of 6-10 in global resource consumption and environmental impacts in the next century.

The result of this combination is the well-known "factor 10 challenge": it is necessary to increase the environmental performance of all activities in industrial society by a factor of 10 during the coming decades in order to obtain sustainable development on a global scale. Further, the combination indicates certain focus areas as being especially important in order to preserve the "environmental space" on Earth. These focus areas may be expressed in many different ways. In the present context it has for various reasons - been chosen to present four focus areas as follows:


Four focus areas on a global scale


M) Consumption of mineral resources, excluding energy purposes (Mineral resources)


E) Consumption of fossil fuels (Energy)


C) Consumption and dispersion of chemicals hazardous to the environment and human health (Chemicals)


B) Consumption of biological resources, including biological production as its basis, biodiversity and land use (Biological resources).


The four focus areas above do not represent individual environmental effects; rather, they represent a proposal for key elements in an overall global environmental programme. Each of the four focus areas represents important activities of industrial society associated with a number of important effects on environment and health.


The four focus areas are proposed, because major reductions in impact on environment and health will be accomplished if these areas are addressed in an efficient and targeted manner all over the world. In the following, each of the focus areas are briefly discussed and reasoned in a global strategic perspective.


Exploitation of mineral resources


No acute problems, but future lacks to be expected


For the time being consumption of mineral resources does not seem as important and acute as the next three focus areas. This is basically because no important lacks are currently present in mineral resources. On the other hand, with the growth rates of especially South East Asia, a very heavy draw on the world’s mineral resources will soon be the result. This will again imply a large increase in environmental problems, as the exploitation of mineral resources generally consists of very heavy and energy-consuming production processes. Moreover, the unexploited resources become still less rich, which will increase the energy use and environmental problems per ton of mineral resources produced.


Exploitation of mineral resources causes several different environmental effects. However, in the present context, the effects of energy consumption are dealt with in Section 4.3, toxic elements in Section 4.4 and deterioration of habitats in Section 4.5. Therefore, this focus area is mainly considered as the use of resources and the direct effects thereof.


Consumption of fossil fuels


Fossil fuel reserves


Fossil fuels today contribute to 75% of the total energy consumption on a global scale. Known resources are sufficient for a period of about 50 years ahead, and known coal reserves for a period of 200-300 years ahead. This is, however, provided that the consumption rate stays the same as it is now. With the growth rates in South East Asia, this can definitely not be expected, so even though considerable supplementary reserves may still be found, it must be assumed that the reserves will terminate in a considerably shorter time than normally indicated17. Moreover, the combustion of fossil fuels is contributing heavily to a number of the most important effects measured in local, regional and global scale.


In the CEIDOCT concept, all environmental effects of energy consumption are represented under this focus area. The main effects are related to fossil fuel combustion and must be calculated separately at aggregated levels, from e.g. chemicals in cases where the same types of effect occur for both focus areas.


Consumption and dispersion of substances hazardous to the environment and human health


This focus area deals with dispersion of chemicals, e.g. dispersions of toxic heavy metals and numerous chemicals alien to the environment resulting from industrial societies’ activities. This is a complex area involving chemicals, which cause a number of damages to the environment and human health today and there is a significant probability that these damages will increase in the future.


Scientific proof is not feasible


The Danish EPA in its recent report on chemicals has stated that it is very important to cut down as much as possible on the consumption and dispersion of toxic chemicals and also on the number of such chemicals in use. The problem is so complex that it is not possible to establish scientific evidence behind every element of such an initiative. This implies that the principle of caution must be applied if an efficient action programme for this focus area is to be implemented.


Successful experiences exist


In the Danish EPA’s assessment of cleaner technologies it is stated that it has often been possible to substitute toxic chemicals with less dangerous ones or even shift to production technologies with a much lower application of chemical substances. Similar experiences have been made all over the world.


In the present context, all effects of hazardous substances to the environment and health are related to this focus area, except for the effects from combustion products from energy use, which are calculated separately at aggregated levels as stated in Section 4.3 and represented in focus area E.


Toxic effects are the main effect group under this focus area.


Overexploitation of biological resources


The factors considered under this focus area include agriculture, landuse for urban development and infrastructure, forestry and fishing, considerations on production of wood for energy purposes, etc. Generally, environmental effects in all the focus areas result in impacts on biological resources. In this specific focus area, we therefore deal with the relevant effects not accounted for in the other areas. These effects are mainly due to our exploitation of the biological systems and alternative land-use schemes to natural habitats, i.e. it is a question of "space".


This is an effect category, which is in a high position on the international agenda but is generally not accounted for in such assessments as life cycle assessments of products or cleaner technology considerations.


Other factors of relevance to cleaner technology


Parameters normally considered when assessing cleaner technology options are water consumption and waste generation.


Water


In this concept water is included at lower levels, i.e. at the level where LCAs are performed. Water is considered of major relevance for biological production and may be part of an indicator at more aggregated levels for biological resources. Effects of exploitation and mismanagement of water resources are not included in the concept at aggregated levels.


The effects from overloading of nutrients (eutrophication) from municipal/industrial wastewater and agriculture are included at the LCA level. These effects are considered of local interest and are not used at aggregated levels.


Waste


Waste is mainly considered as generation of bulk waste from energy production and is included in indicators for energy at levels of lower aggregation. Municipal waste is excluded at levels 0 and 1. Waste is, however, necessary to consider at lower aggregation levels, when identifying indicators for specific industrial sectors.


Occupational health


Occupational health is not included in this concept, which considers ambient effects primarily. In some cases the major achievements of cleaner technologies are lowered impacts on occupational health, e.g. in the case of reduced levels of VOCs. When identifying indicators for individual sectors occupational health should be considered, and some help can be found in this concept since toxic effects on humans are included, but not e.g. physical damages.


Management indicators


When developing indicators for individual sectors or industries it is recommended to include development of indicators for management performance. These could include issues like training for increased environmental awareness and/or environmental management, stage of environmental management, environmental investment levels etc. but are outside the scope of the present concept.


Normalisation


Use of indicators implies normalisation and weighting. For all focus areas the normalisation suggested is a conversion to milli-person-equivalents (mPEs), where:


Global annual emission or global annual consumption of a resource

1 mPE =


world population x 1,000


For individual sectors other normalisation methods may be considered, such as:


annual emission or consumption of resources

no. of produced units or no. of employees


No general rule can be stated in individual sectors since normalisation is production dependent but normalisation should be agreed within an industrial sector.


The Normalised Environmental Impact Potential (NEP(j)) is expressed as:


Environmental impact potential (emission) per product

NEP(j) =


duration of service (years) x normalisation reference (e.g. mPE)


Weighting


Weighting should be done as a basis for priority ranking and decision making. Several types of weighting can be used, e.g.:


(normalised resource consumption) x annual production

Resource weighting


(total reserve)


The Weighted Environmental Impact Potential (WEP(j) used in the EDIP method is expressed as:


WEP(j) = weighting factor (WF(j)) x normalised environmental impact potential (NEP(j))


where the weighting factor (WF(j)) is:


Environmental impact potential of emissions in 1990

WF(j)


Environmental impact potential of year 2000 emission goal


Sustainability


The ambition behind the development of cleaner technologies is a progression towards a sustainable industrial culture. Therefore, an obvious choice for the target situation will be a sustainable societal impact on the environment, i.e. an impact that does not cause more severe environmental effects than can be accepted according to an overall goal of sustainability.


In this concept this overall goal has been applied for the choice of the focus areas, but concrete goals remain to be developed for weighting in specific applications of the concept.


The weighting factors would reflect the actual distance to a sustainable environmental impact giving greater weight to those of the indicators, which represent areas where the actual impact is farther from the sustainability level.


However, except for some non-renewable resources and the greenhouse gas CO2, the sustainability levels are at present not defined in an operational manner. To facilitate the development of sustainability-based weighting factors, thus, there is a strong need to initiate consensus-building (and possibly research) to establish operational sustainable targets for the most important compounds and (preferably) for the different environmental impact categories, e.g. along the lines of the environmental latitude or space as developed by the project "Sustainable Europe" co-ordinated by the German Wuppertal Institute.


The definition of sustainability implies that some (although generally mild) effect is acceptable (as long as it does not reduce future generations’ possibilities for fulfilling their needs). Therefore, an inherent problem in the operationalisation of the sustainability concept is to reach consensus on, for each type of environmental effect, what the acceptable level is. To overcome this problem, an alternative might be to replace "sustainability" as the target impact with the "no effect level" equivalent to the environmental "carrying capacity", the "critical load", defined as the impact that does not cause any detectable effects or the "factor 10 improvement" of environmental performance.


In any case, it seems an appropriate task for the European Environment Agency to initiate work on the development of sustainability levels or carrying capacity levels for different environmental impacts in Europe.



4.2 Mineral resources


4.2.1 Description of the focus area


Mineral resources covers all materials developed in nature from inorganic processes without any contribution from human beings. The mineral resources can be divided into three groups:

  • Resources extracted from ore minerals, e.g. metals.
  • Other mineral resources, such as e.g. sodiumchloride or gravel. Water and air also belong to this group.
  • Resources based on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels like mineral oil, coal and natural gas may be used as raw materials for the manufacturing of plastic materials and chemical products as well as for energy production. In this context only the utilisation for manufacturing of plastic materials and chemical products is included. Utilisation for energy production is covered by Section 4.3 on energy.

Typical minerals


A list of typical mineral based materials is given in Figure 4.2.1. It should be noted, that focus is given to the materials and not to the minerals (e.g. iron minerals), from which the materials originate. The resources are considered as the raw materials from which the materials are extracted or produced.


Figure 4.2.1: Selected materials18


Group

Material

Renewable Yes/No

Iron and steel

Cast iron

No

 

Construction steels

No

 

Stainless steel

No

 

Steel for magnets

No

 

Sintered steel

No

Other metals

Aluminium

No

 

Lead

No

 

Cadmium

No

 

Copper

No

 

Mercury

No

 

Nickel

No

Other metals

Silver

No

 

Tin

No

 

Brass

No

 

Hard metal

No

 

Other metals and alloys

No

Glass

Window glass

No

 

Quartz glass

No

 

Glass wool

No

Stone materials

Granite

No

 

Marble

No

 

Calcium carbonate

No

 

Sand and gravel

No

 

Cement

No

 

Rock wool

No

 

Porcelain

No

Rubber materials

Butyl rubber

No

 

Ethylene propylene rubber

No

Plastic materials

Acrylnitril butadiene styrene (ABS)

No

 

Thermoplastic polyester (PET, PBT)

No

 

Polycarbonate(PC)

No

 

Polyethylene(PE)

No

Chemical materials

Carbon*

No

 

Nitrogen

Yes

 

Oxygen

Yes

 

Ammonia

No

 

Water

Yes


* Carbon as a chemical material is typically produced by combustion of mineral oil - for this reason carbon is considered a non-renewable material


4.2.2 Use of mineral materials in industrial production - the life-cycle perspective


Mineral materials are utilised as raw materials or ancillary substances in the manufacturing of industrial products, and will for many products constitute the dominant part of the final product.


Life-cycle for minerals


The life-cycle for mineral materials may be briefly outlined as follows:


Mineral materials are extracted from virgin mineral resources, utilised for manufacturing of industrial products and to the extent they are not recycled, dissipated into the environment or disposed of in landfills or other kinds of deposits for waste and residual products.


Main environmental effect


In this context the dominant environmental problem is taken to be the loss of mineral materials, which will occur when mineral materials are emitted to the environmental compartments or disposed of in landfills. This means that the resources are spread in the environment, and as a consequence of this, extraction of them is no longer economically favourable. In environmental terms this is called resource depletion.


Other impacts


It is noted, that in the life-cycle perspective a number of other environmental impacts are related to mineral resources:

  • By the extraction of ore minerals from the earth crust or the bottom of the sea, ecosystems within a certain area may be affected. This may have consequences for the biodiversity. Furthermore mining activities occupy large areas for deposition of waste rock and tailings(waste products). Similar impacts are related to other stages in the life-cycle for mineral materials like refining, manufacturing and disposal operations.
  • All industrial processes involving mineral materials including extraction, refining, manufacturing and disposal require energy. Environmental impacts related to energy production and utilisation are described in Section 4.3.
  • The environmental impacts of hazardous substances emitted during the life-cycle of materials are described in Section 4.4.

In which stages are the mineral materials used?


Loss of mineral materials may take place at all stages of the life-cycle of the mineral materials.


Material stage


When extracting and refining there is a loss of materials, because the waste products from these processes will contain materials not economically feasible to extract. Some losses of material will occur as emissions to soil, water or air.


Manufacture


During the manufacturing stage materials may be emitted to soil, water and air, and materials may end up in waste products, which are not recycled. Even for waste products being recycled some losses of materials may take place, as the recycling processes in many ways resemble the extraction and refining processes.


Use stage


The use stage involves the use of industrial products. Depending on the application of the material, some materials may be consumed completely (e.g. zinc anodes for steel protection in sea water), while others may be only partially lost due to wear and corrosion.


Disposal stage


Materials which are not put forward to recycling may be lost to soil, water or air in e.g. incineration processes or the material will be disposed of in landfills.


It should be noted, that even if the material is recycled, it may be degraded by the process, as it may not always be possible to separate all undesired elements during recycling. These can be found as impurities in the recycled material and may affect the strength or other performances of the material. An example is too much copper in secondary steel which will seriously reduce the strength.


The importance of the individual life-cycle stages with respect to loss of materials may vary considerably for different materials and products and it is not possible to establish general rules. However, for many industrial products the losses taking place during the disposal stage are significant, and attention should be paid to whether the industrial products have been designed to facilitate recycling (the materials are easy to separate from each oher).


4.2.3 Environmental effects


Material loss


The severity of the material loss when considering it as an environmental effect depends on the actual material and in particular on:

  • Whether the material is renewable or non-renewable
  • The amount of existing global reserves and ore grade
  • Ease of material substitution

Renewable/non-renewable


Renewability


A renewable material is a material that can be regenerated naturally within a reasonable period of time. An obvious issue of discussion is which time period should be regarded. However, it seems logical to accept that all materials extracted from water and air should be regarded as renewable while materials extracted from the Earth’s crust should be regarded as non-renewable, since the regeneration of ground and rocks is only possible within a geological time scale. Resources of biological origin are, of course, also renewable; these will be dealt with in Section 4.5 on biological resources.


The reason behind distinguishing between renewable and non-renewable materials is that non-renewable resources in principle may be depleted and therefore at present are taken as far more valuable to the society than renewable materials. On the other hand, the effects of overexploitation of biological resources may be/are severe to the global environment as regards the continuous extinction of species resulting in losses in the gene pool.


Energy consumption to regain "lost" materials will be huge


One may argue that e.g. the iron ending up in landfills or being dissipated in the environment is not really lost, since it can be extracted, implicating that iron is a renewable resource. This argument is only partially true. It is correct that iron never will be lost completely. In principle, it is possible to extract iron from sea water or other environmental compartments in which iron may end up. However, the energy consumption required to do this will be significantly higher than the energy consumption used today to extract iron.


This discussion illustrates the very close links between the status of a material as being renewable/non-renewable, the technological state of the extraction technology and the related energy consumption. When a material like iron is assessed as non-renewable, it is justified by the fact that extraction of iron for the time being is based on ore minerals that cannot be regenerated within a reasonable period of time and that energy resources for the time being are regarded as limited. Figure 4.2.2 shows the connection between energy consumption and ore grade for the extraction of copper.


Figure 4.2.2: Connection between energy consumption and ore grade for the extraction of copper.19



Fossil resources


A parallel to this is the plastic materials which are also classified as non-renewable materials, because the raw materials for production of plastic materials originate from mineral oil or natural gas. These mineral resources are not likely to be regenerated as the geological conditions leading to the creation of these resources like hot climate and very limited utilisation of biomass production may never occur again. In principle, however, plastic materials and other petrochemical products may be produced from vegetable raw materials. This does not happen today, as it is too expensive and requires too much energy. If, or rather, when the production of plastic materials is changed to be based on vegetable raw materials, these materials will change status and be classified as renewable materials. At that stage it will be extremely relevant to consider depletion of biological resources for food.


Existing global reserves


For non-renewable resources it is relevant also to consider the size of the global reserves and the number of years it is likely to last. The rationale behind this consideration is that the society should regard a scarce resource as more valuable than a non-scarce resource.


Resources definition


When discussing amounts of reserves, it is necessary to state some definitions. These are illustrated in Figure 4.2.3. The total amount of resources is the "geological resource", i.e. the total amount of an element in the Earth’s crust. This term is not shown in the figure, which only deals with the technical resources defined as "A concentration of naturally occurring material in or on the Earth’s crust in such form and amount that economic extraction of a commodity from the concentration is currently or potentially feasible".


Technical resources


The technical resources are the total of all classes shown in the figure.


Figure 4.2.3: Classification of mineral resources20


Cumulative
production

Identified Resources

Undiscovered Resources

 

Demonstrated

Inferred

 

 
 

Measured

Indicated

Economic

Reserves

Inferred reserves

 

 

 

Marginally economic

Marginal reserves

Inferred marginal reserves

Subeconomic

Demonstrated subeconomic resources

Inferred subeconomic resources

Other occurrences

Includes non-conventional and low-grade materials


Discovered and undiscovered resources


The technical resources, from now on called resources, can be divided into the identified and the undiscovered resources. The identified resources are those where grade, quality and quantity are known (demonstrated) or can be estimated (inferred). The reserve base is framed on the figure, and is the part of the identified resources that meets specified minimum physical and chemical criteria related to current and expected mining technology. The reserves are the part of the reserve base which can be economically extracted or produced at the time of determination.


Available data normally state global reserves or world reserve base. Data for selected resources can be seen in Figure 4.2.4. The last column states the world reserves life index, which is the amount of reserves versus the annual production. All data are for the year 1990. In other words the worlds reserves life index expresses the number of years that a certain resource is supplicable on the assumption that the production rate is constant. Since the amount of reserves is very time dependent it should always be stated in which year the index was made. It should also be noted that production rates will be far from constant in the future due to the economic growth in South East Asia and elsewhere. The real world reserves life index will therefore be smaller than indicated in Figure 4.2.4.


Ore grade


Another aspect is the grade of the ore, or the rate with which the grade decreases. For some metals there is a almost linear relation between grade and amount of ore to a certain point. In some cases the line is steep, in others it is almost flat. Figure 4.2.5 shows hypothetical curves for these relationships.


This means that even if we become much more energy-efficient in the extraction of the ore, the available amounts of the resource may still be small. The connection between energy consumption for extraction and grade of ore can be seen in Figure 4.2.1. If we can divide the resources into groups of steep correlation, moderate and flat, this could be a way of adding a factor to the weighting. We should not only take into account how much can be exploited economically today but add a "probability factor" for how much is likely to be available in the next decades. It is, however, difficult to state exactly for all resources which curve they belong to. Therefore these aspects should not be included in the current evaluation concept. On the other hand the aspect of ore quality and not only ore quantity has become increasingly more common and as a consequence it is necessary to keep an eye on the development of the subject in order to incorporate it at a later stage.


Figure 4.2.4: Data for selected resources


Resource

Annual production
1,000 tons

Reserves
1,000 tons

Reserve base
1,000 tons

World reserves life index (1990)
Years

Oil (1)

3,132,500

135,400,000

-

43

Bituminous coal (1)

3,038,300

521,413,000

-

172

Lignite (1)

1,342,200

519,116,000

-

387

Natural gas (1)
Million m3

2,019,576

124,000,000

-

61

Iron (2,3)

544,300

64,648,000

-

118

Aluminium (2,3)

17,878

3,488,000

-

195

Zinc (2)

7,325

144,000

295,000

20

Copper (2)

8,814

321,000

549,000

36

Nickel (2)

937

48,988

108,862

52

Manganese (2,3)

9,476

812,800

-

86

Lead (2)

3,367

70,000

120,000

21

Tin (2)

219

5,920

6,050

27

Water (2) km3

3,240

-

-

Infinite


References:
BP, 199221
World Resources, 199222
World Mineral Statistics, 199123


Figure 4.2.5: Connection between amount of ore and grade of ore for groups of metals: scarce, medium abundant and abundant (de Vries, 1989)24.



As a conclusion: the loss of mineral resources should be weighted according to their scarcity. The world reserves is the best base for this weighting procedure.


How easily the material can be substituted


Closely related to the world reserves life index is the dilemma of substitution. If a metal can be substituted by others it might not be relevant to look at the world reserves life index for that specific metal only. Copper for cables can in most cases be substituted by aluminium. It could therefore be argued, that for specific cases, it would be more right to look at the total reserves of copper and aluminium. This method, however, is problematic because it is not possible to state general rules for, which metals can be substituted by which without looking at specific applications. Therefore, this aspect should not be included in this context, as it would tend to limit the importance of an effort to reduce losses of valuable materials.


4.2.4 Evaluation concept


Loss of resources as an indicator


As an ideal the indicator of the mineral resources should be the loss of resources through the whole life cycle (representing level 2 in the CEIDOCT-concept). This approach, however, is not realistic in most cases for an individual manufacturer. The manufacturer responsible for a specific industrial process must be expected to be in control of the losses taking place by the manufacturing process itself, but only to some extent of the losses taking place during the remaining part of the life-cycle.


For the extraction stage it may be difficult to get information


Regarding the extraction and refining processes, reliable data is not likely to be easily available for the ordinary manufacturer. Usually site specific information is regarded as confidential information by the mining and refining companies. For some materials average data for the branch in general will be available. Such data will, however, only allow the manufacturer of an industrial product to evaluate the consequences of substituting one material with another, and will not allow the manufacturer to choose between several suppliers of the same material for environmental reasons. Finally, one should note that the manufacturer of an industrial product can influence the activities of the extraction and refining processes only by his position as a consumer of raw materials. In many cases his real power to control the losses will be minimal. For these reasons, it is recommended that the evaluation concept should not include the losses of the extraction and refining processes, except for those cases where the industrial process in focus actually belong to these processes.


Use and disposal stages


For the use and disposal stages the manufacturer may not always know what will happen. This to some extent reflects the problem that a specific product may be used and disposed of in many different countries under different conditions. On the other hand a manufacturer of an industrial product does have a real influence on the loss of resources during these stages. This is because he is in control of the design of the product and thereby in control of, e.g. whether the materials used in the product may be separated and made available for recycling on economically sustainable terms. Actually, it should be taken as an important element of any cleaner technology effort to optimise product design with the aim to minimise the loss of resources taking place during the use and disposal stages.


For this reason it is recommended, that the evaluation concept, when possible, includes the losses occurring during the use and disposal stages.


Decision should be made at branch level


The evaluation of whether it is possible to include the losses during the use and the disposal stages should be made at the branch level. Generally, one would expect, that manufacturing companies producing final goods would always be able to include losses during the use and disposal stages, while companies dealing solely with semi-manufactured goods to be incorporated in many different industrial products may not be able to include losses during the use and disposal stages.


Not different recycling systems but recyclability


Due to the different waste management systems, no manufacturer is likely to be able to assess the actual recycling taking place in different countries. In this context the actual recycling should be taken as less important than the potential recycling, since the manufacturer should not be held responsible for the actual waste management in different countries. The manufacturer should, however, be held responsible for whether the materials incorporated in the product can be easily separated, when the product is disposed of after use.


Recommended evaluation concept


Thus, the evaluation concept to be recommended may be stated as follows:


The main indicator is the resource loss. At the most specified level which corresponds to the inventory in LCA, the resource loss of each resource is expressed by weight. Going through the normalization and weighting steps in an LCA, one ends up with the weighted values of the loss of resources (level 2). Level 2 thus represents all stages of the product life cycle. In general only non-renewable resources will have a weighting factor different from zero. Consequently the weighted values will mainly represent the non-renewable resources. An important exception, however, is water, which locally can have a consumption rate exceeding the regeneration rate. In this case water will also be among the weighted resources. For simplicity, only non-renewable resources will be represented at the levels 0 and 1. Water consumption may be regarded as a technology specific indicator (TSI), as it is illustrated in the cases in Section 6, but may also be included in the biological resources focus area, Section 4.5. In order to distinguish between materials from non-renewable resources and renewable resources, a list of materials can be consulted.


Resource losses


The resource losses at levels 0 and 1 can be determined as follows:


For level 0, which is the most aggregated level, only the material content of the product and the potential recycling are considered. The procedure is to determine the amount of non-renewable resources in the product by means of weight and consultancy of the list of materials. If it can be argued that parts of the product will be recycled, these contributions can be subtracted. Guidelines for estimation of recycling rates for different groups of products need to be elaborated.


In other words: In order to determine the loss of resources, the inputs and potentials of recycling must be stated. If there is no recycling on disposal, the resource loss will be equal to the inputs. Only inputs which are recycled can be subtracted from the total inputs.


For level 1 the losses of resources throughout the whole life cycle are considered.


For recycled materials a loss during recycling is expected. For aluminium the loss during recycling is expected to be 3%. The recycling loss is replaced by primary aluminium. For each 1 kg which is recycled, 30 grams of primary aluminium must be added. If the input is 1 kg aluminium, and it is recycled, the resource loss is 30 gram aluminium. Similar arguments can be carried out for all other materials. This will, however, need a thorough study of the recycling processes.


Weighting and normalisation principles


The weighting is carried out by multiplying the loss of resources with a weighting factor:


Weighted data = loss of resources x weighting factor


The weighting factor used is the same as in the EDIP method; the reciprocal of the world reserves life index, defined as the reserves divided with the annual production. The reserve is the part of the total amount of a specified resource which is identified and which can be exploited economically. It can be questioned whether the world reserves life index should take into account not only the economically feasible reserves, but all of the demonstrated resources (the reserve base). It can also be questioned if the world reserves life index should be static, i.e. not correcting for an increase in the world's population and consequently an increasing demand of resources.


So far, the static index will be used. Prior to weighting, the loss of resources has been normalised, i.e. divided by the average annual production per person for the given resource. If these data are not available another procedure can be used: The amount of the reserve divided with the total population of the world can be used directly as weighting factor to the inventory data. It means that we get the amount of reserve which is available per person. The resulting value will thus be equal to the normalized and weighted data according to the EDIP method.


Summary of indicator levels


Level 0


Estimated loss of mineral/non-renewable resources for the inputs (material content of the product) and the disposal stage only. The losses are weighted according to the EDIP method and aggregated into one figure.


Level 1


Aggregation of data from the LCA of the product (level 2). Non-renewable resources, weighted and aggregated into the groups:

  • metals
  • minerals
  • fossil raw materials

Indicator level

EPI

Level 0

EPI = Loss of mineral resources per unit (normalised) from inputs (material content) and disposal stage; aggregation of all contributions from mineral resources.

Level 1

EPI = Aggregation of normalised losses of mineral resources from the LCA in groups as:
· of fossil origin
· metals
· other minerals


* mPR = milli Person Resources



4.3 Energy Consumption


4.3.1 Description of the focus area


The global energy production and consumption


The World Resources Institute22 frequently makes statistics on energy production and consumption. In this, they have kept an eye on the trends over the last two decades. From 1970 to 1989 the global, commercial energy production have increased from 205 exajoules to 311 exajoules (1 exajoule = 1018 joules) corresponding to a 52% increase. Typical energy sources in the developing countries, like firewood, animal and plant waste, and charcoal are not included in the figures, which only comprise commercial energy production.


Oil is the most important energy source, accounting for 42% of commercial energy production; secondly coal plays an important role at 31% and gas (natural gas and other petroleum gases) makes up 23% of total production. The remaining energy production is from nuclear, water, geothermal and wind and is called "primary electricity".


As an average, it is calculated that a person in the industrialised world uses about 10 times the amount of commercial energy used by a person in the developing countries. To highlight the differences, today an average US citizen consumes twice as much as a Swede, three times as much as a Greek and 295 times the energy consumed by a Tanzanian.


The Figure below25 shows the increase in global commercial energy consumption, from 1970 to 1989:


Figure 4.3.1: Increase in global commercial energy consumption 1970-1989


Energy and related environmental effects


All modern production is based on the possibility of having a continuous supply of energy. Different productions use different types of energy, but most production needs an electrical power supply.


Energy is used for obtaining and refining raw materials, for industrial production, for transportation and for heating purposes, whether it is as heat required for industrial processes or for comfort. Energy for these purposes is used as primary energy or as secondary energy (electricity) produced from primary energy sources.


The primary energy sources


The primary energy sources are divided into three main categories:


Figure 4.3.2: Categories of primary energy sources



Primary sources, non-renewable


a) Non-renewable sources:

Possible Environmental Effects

- Natural gas
- Oil
- Coal
- Brown coal

* Global warming
* Photo chemical ozone formation
* Acidification
* Eutrophication
* Bulk waste
* Slag and ashes

- Nuclear materials

* Nuclear waste, risks of dispersion


Primary sources, renewable


b) Renewable (biological) sources:

Possible Environmental Effects

- Wood
- Plants
- Biological gas

* Acidification (NOx)
* Eutrophication (NOx)
* Slag and ashes
* Global warming (methane from  biological gas production)

Biological material is to be considered as CO2-neutral.


Primary sources, lasting energy


c) Lasting sources:

Possible Environmental Effects

- wind
- water
- sun
- geothermal

* Landscape destruction
* Loss of biodiversity
(hydro power plants)




The secondary energy


Secondary energy conversion loss


Secondary energy can be described as an energy type developed from a primary energy source. The production of secondary energy - mostly electrical power - results in a conversion loss. In a power plant - only making electrical power from fossil or biological sources - there is a typical conversion loss of about 60%. In a combined power and heating plant, there is a conversion loss of only 15%, because the heat loss is utilised directly for heating purposes, and this does not fully represent a loss.


Environmental impacts


The environmental impacts caused by the use of secondary energy are directly dependent on the primary energy source and the related emissions. So, in cases where the secondary energy is produced from fossil materials, there is a relatively larger environmental problem than if the fossil materials were (could be) used directly in the actual process, because of the conversion loss.


4.3.2 Description of the system


Design of products, management


The design of the products, the design of the production equipment and the management in connection with the production; all have a considerable influence on the total energy consumption. A policy on the choice of sub-contractors, based on environmental assessment, may have great influence on the total energy consumption, the total environmental impact and the total consumption of mineral resources, and thereby on the energy consumption related to the production of raw materials.


All stages of a life cycle can be energy consuming


The life cycle stages: materials stage, manufacturing stage, user stage and disposal stage, are all linked in a network of transportation. Depending on the type of product, all life cycle stages are energy consuming - more or less. Energy consuming products like electronics or motors can have a very high consumption of energy in the user stage compared to other stages in their life cycle. Other products or parts of products not consuming energy in the user stage, very often have their largest consumption of energy in the materials stage.


It should be noticed that a deliberate change of product design in the effort of creating a less energy-consuming product in the user stage, can be a very good cleaner technology initiative, even though this design change may result in a higher energy consumption in the manufacturing stage. This underlines the importance of making life cycle assessments in product development.


In some cases the energy consumption in connection with transport plays a major role viewed over the entire life cycle (soy beans for food oils, is an example).


The disposal stage can be energy consuming, almost neutral or it can be energy producing. An example of the latter, is the incineration of household waste in plants connected to the public heating system.


4.3.3 Evaluation concept


The headlines in an environmental assessment of the energy consumption in connection with a "cleaner technology initiative" are:

  1. Minimise the energy use

    and


  2. Promote the use of lasting energy and renewable energy in preference to non-renewable energy.

An evaluation of the energy consumption and the related environmental impacts before and after the introduction of cleaner technology may therefore have to include an investigation of the primary energy sources "behind" the MJ or kWh. The three groups of energy sources are:

  1. Energy from non-renewable resources, (fossil materials, nuclear energy).
  2. Energy from renewable resources, (biological resources).
  3. Energy from lasting sources (wind, water, sun).

Electric power from the European electrical network is based on a mixture of the three primary energy sources as mentioned.


a) Energy from non-renewable resources, (fossil materials, nuclear energy)


The non-renewable resources consist of two types:

  • the fossil materials.
  • the radioactive materials.

Fossil materials


The fossil materials are:

Natural gas
Oil
Coal
Brown coal


Consuming these resources for energy production at a rate as we do today is considered a problem. First of all, the world lifetime reserve index, for these resources is estimated to be about 40 years for oil, 60 years for natural gas and 390 years for coal estimated in 1989. This means that coal will be the most important fossil energy resource within a relatively short period of time.


Secondly, the combustion of fossil materials results in an increased CO2 content in the atmosphere and thereby an unwanted potential for global warming. Natural gas is creating less CO2 than oil and coal. Fossil materials contain different components that contribute to different environmental effects when combusted. The major effects in addition to global warming are acidification, eutrophication and slag and ashes heavy metals.


Radioactive materials


Radioactive materials for nuclear power production are widely used today. The interesting radioactive energy source in this connection is Uranium-isotopes. Winning uranium implies heavy processes and creates environmental effects similar to those created by winning precious metals. Several nuclear power plants around the world have constituted a serious risk either because of missing maintenance, lack of attention to (or missing) safety precautions, bad materials or less appropriate layouts. In a well organised and well operated modern nuclear power plant the major environmental problem is radioactive waste, which must be deposited. The transport and deposition of nuclear waste presents a serious risk to the surroundings.


b) Energy from renewable resources. (biological resources)


Energy from biological resources is considered to be renewable. The biological resources in this connection embrace trees, plants and derived products. Biological resources are only considered to be renewable if they are renewed concurrently with the utilisation. Renewability is not necessarily equal to sustainability in this connection even though it might be a step in this direction. Overconsumption of biological resources is considered in Section 4.5.


On the other hand a natural and balanced utilisation of surplus biological material for energy production is at present considered a good idea in order to save non-renewable resources. Biological material is CO2-neutral to the environment, but depending on the combustion process and its control, several types of emissions will contribute more or less to environmental effects as mentioned above.


c) Energy from lasting sources (wind, water, sun)


Much research and development has been carried out in order to find an energy source that was unlimited and not harmful to the surroundings. The three lasting primary energy sources: wind, water and sun can be used unlimited whenever they are available. It is not, however, always possible to generate secondary energy from these three primary sources. Availability is widely dependent on the geographical location and the weather conditions.


Even though there are no direct emissions from these energy sources, their use often leads to various environmental effects. As an example, large hydro power plants and related damming can be harmful to the wildlife in the actual water system and result in a loss of biodiversity. The flooding of large areas may also imply serious habitat extinction.


Windmills make noise and if they are installed in e.g. a residential neighbourhood they can be inconvenient both with regard to noise and to visual impression. If they are placed in an attractive natural landscape the same inconveniences will apply.


In spite of this, lasting energy sources are considered to be the most environment friendly energy sources compared with non-renewable and renewable sources.


Today, the predominant part of the world’s energy supply comes from non-renewable (fossil) sources and it is a general wish to reduce the consumption of these resources and instead use the renewable and lasting sources.


In the following it is therefore decided only to distinguish between:

  • non-renewable resources

    and


  • renewable and lasting sources.

4.3.4 Four scenarios describing the complexity in aggregation


In the following section four scenarios are presented to highlight the use of indicators at levels 0 and 1. The scenarios also illustrate the difficulties in using one EPI as a top-down approach to evaluate a cleaner technology initiative with respect to electric power consumption.


Scenario no. 1


A paper machine manufacturer has developed a new production line for paper manufacturing in four operations. He wants to sell the machine on the European market. The last operation in the production line is drying of the paper product. The drying of paper is carried out by heating some rolls on which the paper is transported. It is now considered which of the following alternatives for heating of the rolls that is the most environmentally friendly.


Heating by steam condensation. Steam is normally produced on the factory’s own steam plant, which typically uses natural gas or gas oil as the primary energy source, but coal can be used in some cases.


Heating by oil or gas burners directly in the rolls.


Electrical heating using the electricity from the public power supply (EU average electrical power).


  1. In the first alternative, natural gas is used to fire the steam boilers. There is an energy loss in the evaporation of water to steam, a loss in the pipe line from the steam plant to the heated rolls, and maybe a minor loss in the condensation of steam in the rolls.
  2. In the second alternative, natural gas is combusted through burners mounted inside the rolls and there is only a minor loss, because the gas supply to the burners is controlled by the temperature on the surface of the rolls.
  3. In the third alternative, electrical energy is used to heat the rolls. The electrical power comes from the public power supply (EU average electrical power). Even though the efficiency in generating heat using electricity is almost 100%, there is a conversion loss of approx. 60% in making the electricity.

In order to determine the different efficiencies and the different related environmental impacts an upper-level EPI is not enough. It will be necessary to perform a closer analysis, since all changes are based on non-renewable resources.


Scenario no. 2


A factory producing paper asks the Danish EPA for financial support to convert to a new energy system. Their present energy system, which is a combination of a natural gas fired heating system and the use of the public, electrical power system (h = 0.4) (EU average electricity), is proposed changed to a natural gas fired power/heat plant with possibility of firing with wooden chips later.


The environmental consequences must be analysed and a proper EPI suggested which reflects the consequences of the change.


In a co-generation power plant both heat and electrical power is produced. It is normally not a problem to use the electrical power or "export" it to the public electrical network, but it should be considered if the generated heat can be used. Otherwise there will be a loss in this system.


In the proposed new system, the total efficiency of a power/heat plant based on natural gas or wooden chips, has a relatively high efficiency of approx. 85%. The environmental impact from this system before and after conversion to wooden chips should be compared with the total impact from the existing energy system.


Scenario no. 3


A Danish newspaper group is looking abroad for a supplier of paper. Two interesting suppliers were found, who produced a good quality, which at the same time was cheaper than the previous supplier’s. Seen from an economic point of view the two alternatives were even.


The first alternative was a Polish supplier, who used electricity produced at a brown coal fired power plant and steam for heating purposes, also from a brown coal fired plant.


The second alternative was a Norwegian supplier, who based all his production on Norwegian electricity, which is more than 95% based on hydro power.


Which supplier should the Danish newspaper syndicate choose, from an environmental point of view? An EPI should be chosen which reflects the energy related consequences of the choice.


The immediate answer to the question is: the Norwegian supplier.


An EPI which reflects the differences in environmental impact between use of renewable/lasting resources and non-renewable resources would serve in this case.


However, due to the different primary energy resources to supply electricity to the European power network, the case is not absolutely clear-cut. The export of coal-based electricity from Denmark to Norway on the European net presents an uncertainty for calculation of environmental impacts, which at this stage cannot be included in the concept.


On the other hand the choice of the Norwegian supplier could make the Polish producer reflect on his energy source and on a longer term force him to convert his energy system to an environmentally friendlier system.


Scenario no. 4


A factory producing screws, nuts and round-headed nails uses a larger number of old turning lathes that have a very large consumption of electrical power. The government in the specific country decides to make a regulation on electrical power. A 25% tax is introduced on electrical power. The manager of the factory makes a quick decision and changes the old turning lathes to new high efficiency turning lathes.


The result is that he is able to produce 1.3 of the old production and lower his consumption of electrical power to a total of 80% of the old consumption, for the operation of the turning lathes.


In this scenario the cleaner technology initiative is easy to point out and the key indicator could simply be the number of MJ per produced unit ‘before’ compared to the 'after' situation.


The four scenarios are reviewed in the matrix Figure 4.3.3 to illustrate the necessity of at least two levels in an indicator model.


Figure 4.3.3: Environmental Performance Indicator (EPI) model for energy consumption in a Cleaner Technology Assessment


Scenario

Indicator level

  No 1. Drying paper:

a) Using steam from own plant, typically heated with coal, oil or gas.

b) Using oil or gas directly.

c) Using electrical power from public supply.

No 2. Energy system:

a) Combination of public, electrical power (?=0.4), and natural gas for heating.

b) Natural gas fired power/heat plant with possibility of changing to wooden chips firing (?=0.85)

No 3. Subcontractor:

a) Polish supplier using electricity from brown coal fired power plant and steam produced from brown coal for heating.

b) Norwegian supplier using only electricity from a hydro power based system.

No 4. New machines:

a) Old turning lathes using 100 kWh for the daily production.

b) New turning lathes using 80 kWh for 1.3 of the daily production.

Level 0

EPI = number MJ/? per unit

(Electrical power, ?=0.4)

(Energy measured as primary energy)

A level 0 indicator can be used,
·  because the producer of the new paper machine does not know where the machine is to be used.
·  because the choice will not affect the composition of the primary energy sources.

Condition 3)

    A level 0 indicator should be used. Only one energy form is involved in the decision, and the choice therefore does not affect the use and composition of primary energy sources.

Level 1

EPI = the aggregation of energy types in:

? Non-renewable resources (% of total, MJs)

? Biological resources (% of total, MJs) and/or lasting resources (% of total, MJs)

  A level 1 indicator should be used for decision, because the choice affects the use and composition of primary energy sources. A level 1 indicator should be used for decision in this case.

It should be considered, if the capacity of the Norwegian hydro power plants will be fully utilised irrespectively of the production volume at the paper factory, because of flexible electricity import/export between Norway and Denmark.

If so, Danish coal based electricity will be the real source of electricity for the Norwegian supplies.

 

4.3.5 Suggestion for indicators at aggregated levels


In the following a two-level indicator model is introduced for evaluation of the energy parameter in a cleaner technology context.


Level 0


Level 0 is the highest aggregated level which may also be used for a top-down approach. An obvious indicator at this level is the primary MJ, i.e. the energy consumption in MJ and corrected by the efficiency with which the energy is produced, including any conversion loss, from primary to secondary energy.


The main difficulties in the use of the model at level 0 is the fact that secondary energy types (e.g. electricity or steam) are produced from widely different primary energy sources contributing to widely different environmental impacts. The scenario no. 3 illustrates a situation where it is necessary to take this into consideration.


On the other hand level 0 can be used in many cases, if the following conditions are met:

  1. only one form of primary energy or just one mixture of primary energy sources is involved in the decision on choice of technology
  2. the energy derives from primary electricity (lasting energy sources (wind, water, sun)), for all alternatives comprised by the decision
  3. when the actual composition of primary energy sources is unknown or considered to represent a broad average, e.g. "Average European electricity".

Level 1


In cases where the choice between alternatives will actually affect the extent to which non-renewable energy sources are used compared to renewable or lasting sources it may be necessary to evaluate the decision at level 1. Level 1 is an aggregation of different energy types into two categories:

  • Energy from non-renewable resources
  • Energy from biological resources (renewable) and lasting sources (wind, water, sun) where the energy is measured in efficiency corrected MJs.

The recommendation is always:

  • try to achieve an alternative with the lowest possible total, primary energy consumption.

Primary electricity (from wind, water or sun) is considered primary energy, i.e. the energy efficiency is in this context set to 1. If the total energy is approximately the same for the alternatives:

  • choose the system consuming the least amount of energy from the non-renewable sources
  • if several of the alternatives consume the same amount of non-renewable sources, choose (among these) the system consuming the least amount of energy from the renewable and/or the lasting sources.

Level 1 is to be used when the primary energy sources are foreseeable and when the decision in question will affect the use of primary sources in a foreseeable way.


Choices may also be assessed at a more detailed level, i.e. using a life cycle assessment (level 2). Today such analyses are relatively unproblematic, as computerised models, tools and databases are already developed in this field. It should be mentioned that a life cycle assessment comprises other types of resources than just the energy sources and in this, it is not meaningful to make an LCA on the energy system alone. LCAs will end up with a total picture of the environmental impacts from the product in question and the related cleaner technology initiatives.



4.4 Chemicals


4.4.1 Description of the focus area


Definition


In this project chemicals are defined as "substances" and "preparations". These terms are defined in Danish legislation (order no. 829 of 15.10.93, last amendment 7.2.1996) as well as in the EEC directive nr. 67/548/EEC with later amendments. The definitions are:


"Substances" mean chemical elements and their compounds in the natural state or obtained by any production process, including any additive necessary to preserve the stability of the products and any impurity deriving from the process used, but excluding any solvent which may be separated without affecting the stability of the substance or changing its compositions;"


"Preparations" mean mixtures or solutions composed of two or more substances;"


Use of chemicals


Chemicals are being used in industry for different purposes. In this project we distinguish between raw materials (reactants, substances providing the product with wanted properties), additives (stabilizing agents, colours etc.) and ancillary materials (i.e. cleaning agents, catalysts, filter materials etc.).


Chemicals used as raw materials or additives in a process will by definition be included in the product.


Chemicals used as ancillary materials in a process will not be included in the final product.


Environmental pressures resulting from the use and emissions of chemicals


The atmosphere is the primary recipient for airborne emissions, the secondary recipient for fugitive emissions (such as methane from landfills, ammonia from manure applied as fertiliser) and for evaporation of volatile compounds emitted to the other compartments.


The soil is primary recipient for wastes (including sewage sludge) being deposited or spillage's etc. leading to pollution of soil, it is secondary recipient for exchange between compartments in the form of deposition of airborne pollutants, adherence of certain substances, (e.g. heavy metals) to the sediment etc. Examples of chemical compounds, which end up in sediments/sludge, are heavy metals, persistent large-molecule hydrocarbons e.g. many aromatic hydrocarbons, molecules characterised by low vapour pressure, low mobility in soil e.g. because of high affinity to humus (organic matter in soil). Pesticides are an example of chemicals regularly sprayed directly on plants (and on soil).


Water is the primary recipient for emissions with waste water, surface flow and secondary recipient for exchange between compartments e.g. deposition in sea of airborne pollutants, groundwater being polluted by substances penetrating the soil etc.


Chemicals are wasted either directly as hazardous waste, resulting in controlled ambient emissions, or with municipal waste. Depending on the end treatment it is converted (e.g. by incineration) to other (not always) less harmful compounds or slowly released (e.g. heavy metals) from a landfill or a dump. When chemical compounds are treated as waste this generally means that release is controlled, and often that emissions are shifted between media, e.g. from air and water to water and soil.


Over the last decade awareness of the environmental problems resulting from emission of chemicals has raised. This situation and regulation of emissions both to air and water has reduced industry's emissions. Figure 4.4.1 shows that reductions have been achieved, but it does not show if reductions are due to application of cleaner technologies or end-of-pipe solutions.


Figure 4.4.1: Examples of chemicals released from industrial processes are taken from Miljøstyrelsen, 199426.


tonnes

1985

1988/1989

Heavy metals

20

12

Oils

90

approx. 30

Phenolic compounds

approx. 530

100

Adsorbable organic halogen (AOX)

14000

4000

Non-chlorinated aliphatic compounds

6300

4000

Non-chlorinated aromatic compounds

380

300

Chlorinated aliphatic compounds

27000

18000

Chlorinated aromatic compounds

52000

approx. 11000

Figures are approximate, but it can be seen that decreases are significant.


Fate and ultimate exposure


The amount and the properties of the chemical compounds emitted, the physical conditions at the place of emission and the possibility for chemical reactions to take place, decide for each compartment both the exchange between compartments and the fate of the particular chemical compound within the compartment. Examples are shown in the Figure 4.4.2.


Figures are approximate, but it can be seen that decreases are significant.


Fate and ultimate exposure


The amount and the properties of the chemical compounds emitted, the physical conditions at the place of emission and the possibility for chemical reactions to take place, decide for each compartment both the exchange between compartments and the fate of the particular chemical compound within the compartment. Examples are shown in the Figure 4.4.2.


Degradation


The degradation of a chemical compound in the environment, through the action of micro-organisms or through chemical reactions, determines the lifespan of the chemical compound in the environment and thus the possibility of dispersion over large areas and the possibility for bioaccumulation.


Biodegradation


Biodegradation is degradation of chemical compounds in biological systems, mostly by microorganisms (and invertebrates) in a waste water treatment plant or in the water, soil or sediment.


Bioaccumulation


Bioaccumulation is the common term for chemical compounds being concentrated in living organisms (bioconcentration) or possibly accumulated to higher concentration levels through the food-chain (biomagnification) due to a combination of lipophilicity and persistence (non-biodegradability). The latter may lead to levels where toxic effects become evident. Very few data are available, but since accumulation mostly is connected to fatty tissues, very often the chemical compound's distribution between the water phase and n-octanol (representing body lipids), Kow is used to estimate the potential for bioaccumulation. The indicator used is log Kow. (= Pow, but log Pow is increasingly used).


Dispersion


Dispersion means spreading of the chemical compound by physical transport. Dispersion in water and soil ecosystems depends on its water solubility, its mobility in soil, its volatility etc.


Effects on humans


Exposure to chemicals may lead to a variety of toxic effects on humans. Toxicological effects are most often divided into:

  • Acute toxicity, covering the effects caused by a single (or a few) exposures generally in large doses. May be fatal and irreversible or reversible, e.g. gastro-intestinal inflammation. Example of an acute reversible effect is the narcotic effect of some solvents, whereas hydrogencyanide can be fatal even in low concentrations (down to app. 100 ppm).


  • Skin and eye irritation are due to local effects in the tissues exposed. Especially inorganic acids and alkalis are very potent irritants.


  • Allergic reactions, that is immunological reactions to the substance. Bisphenol A used in epoxy resins is an example of a very potent allergen.
  • Systemic toxicity, are due to toxic effects to the biological functions encountered most often after long term exposure.


  • Organ toxicity may occur when a specific organ is more susceptible due to accumulation, different metabolism, or specific binding sites for the substance. An example of specific organ toxicity is the pain reliever Acetaminophen which induce toxic effects in the liver.


  • Carcinogenicity, which is the potential to cause malign tumours or other forms of cancer.


  • Mutagenicity, which is the potential to induce damages or changes into the DNA


  • Reproductive toxicity, which consists of at least two different types of effects: Specific effects to the reproductive organs and teratogenicity which is the substance ability to pass the placenta and cause damages to the evolving fetus. Probably the best publicly known teratogen is Thalidomide, a sedative given to pregnant women in the early 60s, causing malformations in foetuses. An issue for the time being is the environmental dispersion of estrogenic active substances, e.g. nonylphenol, causing reproductive defects in males (decreasing viable semen production, causing testicular cancer).

Ecotoxicity


Depending on the type of assessment to be carried out, ecotoxicological effects may be classified in a number of ways such as the following:

  • According to duration of exposure, i.e. either as acute or chronic effects. Whether e.g. a 96 hours test is to be considered an acute or a chronic test depends on the generation time of the test species. The vast majority of experimental ecotoxicological effect data are on acute effects. Among the standard tests only the algae growth inhibition test (72 hours) can be considered a chronic test due to the short generation time of algae populations.


  • According to trophic levels, i.e. do the effects occur among the primary producers or among primary, secondary and tertiary (etc.) consumers? The trophic level approach can be exemplified by the food chain: Algae, zooplankton, fish and marine mammals.


  • According to hierarchical levels, i.e. are the effects observed at the community, population, individual or cell level. Most standard tests are at the individual level, the algae test, however, being a population level test. Most often seen are the terms LC50 (lethal concentration, 50% mortality among test organisms) or, more rarely, LD50 (lethal dosis, 50% mortality among test organisms). In cases where more sensitive test end points than mortality are requested, the common term EC50 (effect concentration, 50% of test organisms affected) is used.

Relevant exposure and effect data are shown in the following table (Figure 4.4.2) represented by simple testdata, which normally can be found in databases like those presented in Section 4.4.5.


Figure 4.4.2: Examples of relevant exposure and effect data and their representation by simple testdata. (Modified from Kjølholt et al.,1994)27


 

Exposure

Potential Effects

 

Property

Representation

Property

Representation

Atmosphere

Degradation

Volatility

Solubility

Tœ (Photo), atm.
lifetime

Vapour pressure (vp)

Solubility in water (sol.)

Ozone depletion

Global warming

Photochemical ozone formation

Toxicity by inhalation

ODP

GWP

POCP

LC50 inh., rat

Soil

Degradation

Bioaccumulation potential

Mobility in soil

Volatility

Tœ, (soil)

log Kow

Koc/Kd

Vapour pressure (vp)

Acidification


Eutrophication

Toxicity to invertebrates

Toxicity to birds

Acidification pot.

N- or P-content

LC50 earthworm

LC50 or LD50, bird

Surface water

Degradation

Diffusion in water

Volatility

Bioaccumulation potential

Tœ, water

Solubility in water (sol.)

Vapour pressure (vp)

BCF or log Kow

Eutrophication

Toxicity to fish

Toxicity to invertebrates



Toxicity to algae

N- or P-content

LC50, (fish)

LC50 (daphnia or other invertebrate)

EC50 (algae)

Ground-water

Degradation

Transport to groundwater

Diffusion

Bioaccumulation potential

Tœ (groundwater)

Tœ (soil), log Kow

Solubility in water (sol)

log Kow

Toxicity to mammals

LD50 oral,rat

Sediment

Degradation

Bioaccumulation potential

Tœ (sediment)

BCF or log Kow

Toxicity to fish

Toxicity to invertebrates



Toxicity to algae

LC50 (fish)

LC50 daphnia or other invertebrate)

EC50 (algae)


4.4.2 Description of the system


Emission of chemicals


Based on the definitions stated in section 4.4.1, emissions of chemicals can be expressed as either 'process related' or 'product related' emissions. Process related emissions can be connected to all the three groups of chemicals (raw materials, additives and ancilliary materials). Product related chemicals can only be connected to raw materials and additives but the emissions can occur during the entire life cycle of the product ending up as waste.


The interrelation between the emission of chemical compounds and the effect on the environment is complex and involves dispersion, exchange between compartments, physical, chemical and biological alteration. LCA methods, such as the EDIP model, take the exchanges and alterations into account through simplified assumptions and possible effects are estimated.


Material stage


For raw materials most manufacturers will like to have a freedom of choice, meaning that often a large number of suppliers are kept for each chemical used. It is thus very difficult, nearly impossible, to get detailed information about manufacturing and emissions, environmental permits etc. from each individual manufacturer of raw materials. This is also in some cases due to the fact that individual chemical industries are unwilling to provide detailed information about their production. Knowledge should be obtained of significant types of emissions for each chemical, if at all possible. This goes particularly for persistent, very toxic chemicals and heavy metals. In this stage only significant emissions and wastes should be included as described in the following sections.


Use stage


It may not be clear to the manufacturer what the exact use of his product is; it may be applied in minute amounts and the end-disposal may be unknown. This applies for example to manufacturers of paint for metal coating used for a variety of end-purposes.


Another characteristic, however, of this type of paint is that it is solvent based. The solvents are released in the use stage and potential effects are human toxicity and POCP. Here, it is important to look at emissions in the use stage but it may often be possible to include potential effects in the disposal stage only.


Disposal stage


As a result of an uncertain end disposal method, the ultimate fate of a chemical compound is estimated by evaluation of its physical and chemical properties. For persistent chemicals and heavy metals it must be expected that the full amount ends up in the ambient media; it is a matter of time - and of concentrations. Thus impact in the disposal stage must, in case of uncertain information on the end-disposal, be calculated as emission of the full amount left after the use stage.


Either the raw material stage or the disposal stage may be excluded from the calculation of impact from the life-cycle. However, such a decision must be based on sector-specific arguments and only on a sector-specific basis. It can not in general be concluded that the raw material or disposal stages could be left out.


4.4.3 Evaluation concept


In dealing with the use of chemicals in the present project the focus is not on resource depletion; this is taken care of in the focus areas; materials (M) and energy (E). Evaluation of use of chemicals focus on the effects from emission of chemical compounds and from deposition of waste.


Environmental effects from the use of energy are assessed in focus area 4.3. It is only in very special situations that gaseous emissions from combustion of energy can be mixed with emission of chemical compounds from the production process itself. Examples are production of mineral wool or virgin steel in cupol ovens or production of cement etc. Here, it will be difficult to determine exactly which effects originate from fuel combustion and which from release of chemical compounds. In these cases the consumption of primary energy in the production process should be calculated as described in 4.3 and potential effects from known chemicals calculated as described in this section.


It is possible, though, to state which effects are mostly from combustion of fossil fuels and which are mostly from emission of chemicals. Those that can be attributed solely to the use of chemicals are toxic effects, so aggregation of toxic effects is used at level 0. In the case of suspected additional effects, however, these effects should be included at level 1. In many cases this means that it is necessary to proceed directly to level 1 for further evaluation.


Level 0 indicators for screening purposes


The level 0 indicators for screening purposes are tools to be seen as a "process-filter" permitting processes or parts of the technologies’ life-cycles to pass through, retaining only those that give important contributions to chemical-related environmental impacts. Exposure data like persistent toxicity and bioaccumulation giving rise to possible distribution over large areas and possibility for effects to coming generations is rated equal with acute effects.


It is considered important that level 0 indicators for screening purposes should be few, and based on easily accessible data.


Scoring system


The level 0 indicators for environmental effects related mainly to the emission of chemicals for technology alternatives are:

  • Persistency and/or bioconcentration, assessed and categorised with the use of scores.


  • Ecotoxicity and human toxicity: A combination of released amount and classification according to hazards (through the use of classification for labelling) categorised with the use of scores.

Potential toxicity is then grouped according to problem level using scores (S) and a formula of the form:


S Potential toxicity = S amount * ( S persistency + S bioaccumulation +S human tox. +S ecotox.)


Methods for calculation of level 0 indicators are shown in the matrix, Figure 4.4.5, page 59.


The method is one among other methods based on similar principles, which are:


Environmental impacts from an emission depends on the amount, the dispersion in the environment and the effect(s).


In the formula above persistence and bioaccumulation represent dispersion and toxicity represents effects. The method uses scores for selected properties. For each of the parameters; amount, dispersion and effect a score from 0 to 3 is assigned. By combination of the three parameters an assessment score is calculated. The assessment score gives 12 possible levels (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9,10, 12, 15 and 18). These levels can indicate whether a given emission is non-problematic, potentially problematic or problematic.


The method does not pretend to establish an exact or scientific assessment, it merely points out the seriousness or "problem level" of the potential health and environmental impacts. The purpose of the method is to illustrate: how serious is the environmental impact and thereby to assist decision makers in the process of environmental management, product development, etc..


To meet the requirements on data availability and simplicity of use, it is considered appropriate that the choice and definition of level 0 indicators should be made separately for the different industrial branches. They should be based on the knowledge of specific chemical-related impacts that are relevant within each branch, regarding also estimates of the emitted quantities. This way indicators may be limited to potential toxicity for the majority of industrial sectors.


Use of classification for labelling


Use of classification for labelling in the form of R-sentences means that it is only possible at level 0 to include the chemicals that are classified, i. e. volume chemicals. In addition it must be realised that a certain amount of subjective judgement is used for a decision on classification, where a number of organisations must reach a compromise.


Analysis and suggestion for indicators at level 1


The indicators used are generally as considered in the EDIP method.


Particularly if VOCs are used, it will not be appropriate to aggregate any further than level 1, since it must always be considered if the indicators used at level 0 are representing all significant effects from chemicals.


At level 1 the toxicity indicators are shown as the categories persistency/bio-accumulation, human toxicity and ecotoxicity. The photochemical ozone formation is also included at this level.


Indicators are calculated using the critical volume model and equivalence factors are shown in Figure 4.4.3.


Critical volume model


A procedure for calculating the ecotoxicity potentials, is given by Hauschild et al.(19965). Up to four ecotoxicity potentials are calculated for each substance; for acute ecotoxicity in water, for chronic ecotoxicity in water, for chronic ecotoxicity in soil, and for ecotoxicity to microorganisms in sewage treatment plants.


The ecotoxicity potential is measured in m3 of the compartment. It corresponds to the volume of the compartment to which the emission should be diluted in order to obtain a concentration of substance so low that no ecotoxic effects would be expected from the emission.


The Equivalence Factor EF is calculated as the product of three factors which represent the substance's dispersion in the environment, its ecotoxicological characteristics and its biodegradability. The equivalence factors for ecotoxicity depend exclusively on the characteristics of the substance. A more detailed description of the procedure can be found in Hauschild et al. (19965).


When using the 'critical volume' model much of the work of the redistribution calculations and the calculation of equivalency factors consists of finding the necessary data for the substance's chemical and ecotoxicological characteristics.


Calculation of the redistribution factors requires a knowledge of the substance's

  • Henry's Law constant
  • atmospheric half-life
  • Pow

Calculation of ecotoxicity factors requires information on its

  • Ecotoxicity
  • Possibly Pow and Kd

Calculation of the biodegradability factor requires a knowledge of the substance's

  • biodegradability

These data can be found in the literature or more readily in various databases in books or electronic data media. A list of databases can be found in Section 4.4.5.


Suggestion for indicators at level 2


Evaluation Parameters and Criteria


Within each of the impact categories outlined in Figure 4.4.3 a method is proposed to aggregate all the emissions contributing to this impact category into a single parameter, the indicator. This indicator represents the potential contribution to that environmental impact category from the process or the chain of processes subject to evaluation. At level 2 LCAs are used, in this report exemplified by the methodology, which has been developed in the EDIP-program (Wenzel et al., 1996):


Figure 4.4.3: The equivalence factors used for each environmental effect cate


Issues

Equivalence factor

Information source

Global warming

g CO2-equivalents

IPCC (Albritton et al., 1995)28

Stratospheric ozone depletion

g CFC11-equivalents

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) (Solomon and Wuebbles, 1994)29

Photochemical ozone formation

g C2H4-equivalents

Anderson-Skjöld et al., 199230, Derwent and Jenkins, 199031

Acidification

g SO2-equivalents

Hauschild et al., 1996

Eutrophication

g NO3—equivalents

Hauschild et al., 1996

Toxic contamination (toxicity and ecotoxicity)

"Critical volume"

Hauschild et al. 1996a, 1996


Climate change as a consequence of the greenhouse effect


The total Global Warming Potential (GWP) expressed as kg CO2-equivalents and calculated as the product of the emitted quantities of greenhouse gases and their respective global warming potentials. For the major part of industrial processes the global warming potential originates from use of energy. For this reason it is not considered a representative indicator at levels 0 and 1.


The source of data is primarily reports from the World Meteorological Organization. As for the Global Warming Potentials this data includes fate, exposure and effect considerations. They have been evaluated by an international expert panel and must be considered good quality.


Stratospheric ozone depletion


The total Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) expressed as kg CFC11-equivalents and calculated as the product of the emitted quantities of ozone-depletion gases and their respective ozone depleting potentials.


Ozone depleting substances are heavily regulated in Europe and they are to be phased out. This process is being supervised by the national EPAs. For this reason ODP is not considered a representative indicator at levels 0 and 1.


The man-made substances contributing to the stratospheric breakdown of ozone are simple gaseous organic compounds with a substantial content of chlorine or bromine. The most important groups of ozone-depleting halocarbons are the CFCs, the HCFCs, the halons and methyl bromide.


The source of data is primarily reports from the World Meteorological Organization. As for the Global Warming Potentials this data includes fate, exposure and effect considerations. They have been evaluated by an international expert panel and must be considered good quality.


Photochemical Ozone Formation


For photochemical ozone formation (POCP) the reference substance is the gas ethylene (C2H4). The significance of NOx for ozone formation is reflected in the fact that two sets of equivalency factors are used; one for emissions of VOCs occurring in areas with a low background concentration of NOx and one for emissions occurring in areas with a high background concentration of NOx. In the references cited, POCP values have been calculated only for the individual VOCs of greatest significance for total photochemical ozone formation in Europe. But these are not necessarily the compounds of greatest significance for a particular process. It can therefore be an advantage to be able to make an estimation of missing POCP values. Hauschild et al. (19965) describe various methods of estimating POCP values.


There is no international panel of experts for the environmental impact of photochemical ozone formation such as there is for GWP and ODP. Agreement among participating countries in the UNECE on use of the POCP factor system is therefore the closest approximation to international recognition of any equivalency factor system for photochemical ozone formation. The POCP values are calculated with the aid of atmospheric chemical models and a series of assumptions must be made on climatic conditions and the magnitude of the simultaneous emissions of a number of other VOCs and of NOx. The assumptions are discussed in the references presenting these POCP values (Andersson-Sköld et al., 1992, and Derwent & Jenkin, 1990).


However, the variation between POCP values are rather small (about one order of magnitude in the most extreme cases) so even average data for VOCs may not introduce significant errors.


The majority of the NOx, which must be present in order to get photochemical ozone formation, is a result of combustion of fossil fuels. The toxicity effects from VOCs are included at level 0, so it is only considered appropriate to include photochemical ozone formation at level 1. For these reasons photochemical ozone formation is not included at level 0.


Acidification


For a substance to be considered a contributor to acidification:

  • it must cause introduction or release of hydrogen ions in the environment and
  • the anions which accompany the hydrogen ions must be leached or washed out from the system.

Acidification is mainly due to combustion of fossil fuels, but in certain cases e.g. in the production of virgin steel, it may be a significant effect from the industrial production itself.


Eutrophication


For a compound to be regarded as contributing to eutrophication, it must contain nitrogen or phosphorus in a form, which is biologically available.


Eutrophication can be caused by emissions to air, water and soil. The main contributors are emission of sewage from households, agriculture and outlets from wastewater treatment plants and for industries emitting compounds that contain N or P. This is the case for food-production (dairies, slaughterhouses, fish-processing etc.), ammonia emissions from livestock and for the production of certain pesticides as examples.


Both acidification and eutrophication are significant problems only in certain geographical areas. For this reason they are considered local problems, which are included at level 2 only.


Human toxicity


Toxicity can be attributed to many different types of poisonous impacts, and a list of substances which can cause human toxicity in the environment may include thousands of entries. Hauschild et al., have developed a procedure to calculate toxicity potentials for substances, which is shortly explained below. Up to four toxicity potentials are calculated for each substance; for toxicity to humans via air, for toxicity to humans via surface water, for toxicity to humans via soil, and for toxicity to humans via groundwater.


The toxicity potential is determined as the product of the quantity of substance Q emitted and the substance's Equivalence Factor EF for exposure through the compartment in question.


The toxicity potential is expressed in m3 of the compartment and corresponds to the volume of the compartment into which the emission should be diluted for its concentration to be so low that no toxicological effects could be expected from the emission.


The equivalence factor is calculated as the product of four factors which represent the substance's dispersion in the environment, the efficiency of intake for the actual exposure route, the substance's toxic characteristics, and its biodegradability. The toxicity potential depends exclusively on the characteristics of the substance. A more detailed description of the procedure can be found in Hauschild et al.. Toxicity effects are in the majority of industrial cases related to emission of chemicals only and are therefore used at levels 0 and 1.


Ecotoxicity


Ecotoxicological impacts can involve many different mechanisms, with the common feature that they all result in direct toxic impacts at one or more hierarchical levels in an ecosystem. Ecotoxicity, like human toxicity, has the character of a composite category including all substances, which can have a direct effect on the health of the ecosystems. The list of substances classified as contributing to ecotoxicity will therefore be much more comprehensive than the corresponding lists of the other environmental impacts, and it will include many different types of substances with widely differing chemical characteristics and effect categories.


Ecotoxicity is mostly connected with chemicals and is therefore used at levels 0 and 1.


A procedure for calculation of the ecotoxicity potential is described with level 1 and in Hauschild et al.5. The procedure used in EDIP is used for this concept.


4.4.4 Discussion


It is recommended at level 0 to use persistency and/or bioaccumulation for assessment of chemicals used, since these factors determine the long term environmental risk from use of chemicals. As can be seen from the source below32, very little data exist on persistency (it was inferred that data were not available). For bioaccumulation log Kow (also log Pow) is used and virtually no data exist on actual experiments with bioaccumulation.


Figure 4.4.4: Available data concerning the toxic effects of High Production Volume chemicals (2000 - 2500 chemicals) estimated by the ECB, ISPRA, 199632


Effect

Estimated data availability

Acute toxicity

90%

Sub-acute toxicity

53%

Carcinogenicity

10% (1992 estimate)

Mutagenicity

62%

Fertility

20%

Teratogenicity

30%

Acute ecotoxicity (fish or Daphnia)

55%

Short term ecotoxicity (algae)

20-30%

Toxicity to terrestrial organisms

-


It is remarkable that so little data exist on long term environmental risk; in addition to exposure (expressed as persistency and bioaccumulation) this includes chronic toxicity.


The fact that data are not available for parameters, which are considered key indicators for chemicals may influence the use of the CEIDOCT concept for the moment. It is a general tendency in evaluation of chemicals that these parameters are considered of major importance, so more data are obviously needed.


At present only a few chemicals have been considered for classification of ecotoxicity. This fact will probably hamper use of the concept using a top-down indicator at level 0 at the moment. In these cases, it will be necessary to go directly to level 1.


Emission of VOCs as representing photochemical ozone formation is relevant for emission of chemical substances, but smog is not formed without the presence of NOx, which originates from combustion of fossil fuels. Also the toxicity of VOCs is included in calculation of the potential toxicity at level 0. For these reasons it has been decided not to include photochemical ozone formation in the calculation of the aggregated indicator at level 0. If VOC emissions from the industry are significant it will be necessary to go directly to level 1.


4.4.5 Databases


Below is a brief description of the databases to be used for evaluation of chemicals' toxicity and ecotoxicity.


Aquire:

Aquatic Information Retrieval Toxicity Database. Database with ecotoxicological substance characteristics developed for the US EPA. The latest version contains more than 100,000 test results for 5,600 chemicals collected from over 7,000 scientific publications. All test data are assessed and classified by the US EPA. Available in PC version.


Blum & Speece, 1991:

Study of toxicity of 52 different organic chemicals to nitrogen-fixing and heterotrophic bacteria.


Howard, 1990:

Database of various environmental chemical data relevant to assessment of the fates of organic substances in the environment. Data for 151 organic compounds in volumes 1 and 2.


Howard et al., 1991:

Database of rates of degradation in the environment and in a sewage treatment plant. Data for 336 organic compounds.


HSDB:

Hazardous Substance Data Bank. Information on human toxicological and ecotoxicological characteristics and information relevant to assessment of a substance's fate in the environment. Contains comprehensive review of app. 4,500 chemicals. Published by the National Library of Medicine, USA. Information included in HSDB is assessed and approved by a scientific review group. Available on CD-ROM.


IRIS:

Integrated Risk Information System. Database with information on human toxicity, ecotoxicity and fate in the environment. Prepared by the US EPA for over 300 environmentally toxic chemicals. Contains evaluated data. Available on CD-ROM.


IUCLID:

International Uniform Chemical Information Database. Database presenting the environmental data supplied to the European Chemicals Bureau (ECB) on more than 1400 chemicals that are produced or marketed within the EU in annual quantities larger than 1000 tonnes. The information is not evaluated. Available on CD-ROM.


SRC-software:

Software developed by Syracuse Research Corporation for estimating properties like log Pow, atmospheric half-lives and Henry's law constant based on the molecular structure of the substance.


Verschueren, 1996:

Contains information on environmental characteristics for about 2,400 organic compounds. The information is not evaluated.


Nikunen et al., 1991:

Contains information on environmental characteristics for more than 1,700 chemicals. The information is not evaluated.


The section on sources of data for use in the calculation of ecotoxicity potentials above presents a number of databases which can also be used for collection of the data entering into the calculation of human toxicity potentials. Apart from these databases, there is a further one which is relevant only for the calculation of human toxicity potentials because it contains human toxicological data, viz.


RTECS:

Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances. Information on toxicological characteristics. Published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the USA. The information is not assessed. Available on CD-ROM.


Figure 4.4.5: Environmental Performance Indicator (EPI) model for emission of chemicals in Cleaner Technology Assessment


Indicator level

Environmental Performance Indicators - CEIDOCT EPIs

Level 0

Potential effects from chemicals, evaluated as scores, using classification for labelling:
EPI =Samount * (Spersist. or Sbioaccumulation+Stoxicity ), where Stoxicity = Shumantox + Secotox

 

 

Unit

 

CRITERIA FOR APPLICATION OF SCORES IN LEVEL 0

Ref.

 

0

1

2

3

AMOUNT

kg/year

< 0.5

0.5 - 2

2 - 10

> 10

 

PERSISTENCY

 

 

 

 

 

 

Degradation in soil

Tœ. month

<0.1

0.1 - 1

1-3

> 3

/1./

Degradation, water
(OECD, 28 d test)

DOC-red. %

> 95

70 -95

40 - 70

< 40

/1./

Degradation, water
(OECD, 28 d test)

CO2-extern. %

> 90

60 - 90

30 - 60

< 30

/1./

Degradation, water

BOD5/COD

> 0.8

0.5 - 0.8

0.3 - 0.5

< 0.3

/1./

Degradation atm.

Tœ, month

< 0.1

0.1 - 1

1 - 2

> 12

/1./

Classified in EU legislation

 

 

 

 

R53

/2./

BIOACCUMULATION Classified in EU legislation

Pow = log Kow

<1

1-3

3-5

> 5
R58

/1./

TOXICITY

If substances are classified according to Council Directive 67/548/EEC on classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances. EEC. Amendment Dec. 1994

 

 

For human toxicity

Xn; R 20-21-22

Xi; R 36-37-38

For ecotoxicity

R 52

For human toxicity

T; R 23-24-25

C; R 34-3-41

Xi; R42-43

Xn, T; R39-40 or R 48 in combination with R 20-21-22-23-24-25-33

For ecotoxicity

R51

For human toxicity

Tx; R 26-27-28

Tx; R 48 or R39 in combination with R 26-27-28

Xn; R 40-46-62-63

T; R 45-46-60-61

For ecotoxicity

R 50-54-55-56

/2./

Level 1

Calculation of critical volumes, weighted, for the categories (as EDIP):

  • persistency
  • human toxicity
  • ecotoxicity
  • photochemical ozone formation

/1./ List of classification, packaging, labelling, sale and storage of chemicals. Danish Ministry of the Environment (order no. 829 of 15.10.93, last amendment 7.2.1996)

/2./ EU legislation Council Directive 67/548/EEC on classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances. EEC. amendment Dec. 1994




4.5 Biological resources


4.5.1 Description of the focus area


General considerations


Humans depend on biological resources for food, energy, construction, medicine, recreation, inspiration etc. These biological resources are generally renewable when they are properly managed. But biological resources that are abused can become extinct or damaged in other irreversible ways.


The aim of this section is to discuss how human impact on biological resources in relation to cleaner technologies, if possible, can be assessed using a few clear indicators.


Only man-made ecological threats are taken into consideration whereas natural disturbances such as fire, flooding, volcano eruptions, deforestation caused by wind blow-downs and aforestation caused by succession etc. are viewed as background conditions and not considered here. The indicators must at the same time be applicable for assessment at industry level and express key properties for biological resources and species.


Cultivation and direct exploitation


An overall indicator may be based on productive area, related to cultivation potential or on the species pool as a target for direct exploitation. The implications of choosing either of these factors will be analysed, based on their relationship to other environmental factors, influence of quality parameters, etc. Since production from these sectors have the most well-established relations to relevant technologies, they will form the core of the analysis.


Biodiversity


For natural reserves and biodiversity the basis is probably premature for aggregation. Known assessment principles will be reviewed with a view to the actual assessment framework. In particular, traditional carrying-capacity considerations will be viewed against the sustainability concept.


Primary production, photosynthesis


Plants are the primary producers of ecosystems as they via photosynthesis produce organic matter. Photosynthesis is the main mechanism of energy input into living organisms. Primary production is dependant on four main factors:

  • light
  • water
  • CO2
  • nutrients

A part of this primary production is lost through respiration, while another large part is consumed by the heterotrophic organisms. One study suggests that humans today annually mobilise approximately 40% of the total primary production in terrestrial ecosystems. This massive and pervasive exploitation of resources leads inevitably to significant impoverishment of the biota33.


Biological production in terrestrial ecosystems


Primary production in terrestrial ecosystems is usually measured as tons dry matter biomass/ha/ year or in smaller scale as g/m2/day. The primary production in agricultural systems depends on the type of crop as well as on the number of crops/year.


The primary production in natural ecosystems, and thereby the annual yield or increment is dependant on the age of the ecosystem. In managed forests the production is dependant on the tree species, the stand density (number of trees/ha), and the rotation age (years). In forestry the annual increment of wood in the stand is measured as m3/ha/year. Most organic matter in a forest is stored in wood.


The harvest yield of arable lands is usually measured as fresh weight (tons/ha). The potential stocking rate (number of livestock/ha) is sometimes used as a measure for the productivity of pastures.


Biological production in aquatic ecosystems


Biological productivity in aquatic systems, including in particular the Sea (marine ecosystems) but also a diverse range of inland water bodies (lakes and wetlands) is governed by the same basic processes as terrestrial production, though the physical and biological conditions as well as the human exploitation differ markedly in practice.


Light and nutrients are in general the limiting factors for growth, with nutrients as the most common key factor. Production in aquatic systems is in general considerably lower per unit area than for productive terrestrial systems. Wetlands dominated by emergent plants (e.g. reed or cattail) are exceptions as they range among the most productive ecosystems of all.


In particular, most of the ocean area (covering 71 % of the earth surface) are low-productive areas without practical significance in terms of biological resources. The areas of practical significance are

  • coastal sea areas
  • upwelling areas, i.e. areas characterised by upwelling of nutrient-rich water from deeper layers.

The occurrence of productive zones in the sea is therefore at least as patchy as on land.


Carrying capacity


Carrying capacity is discussed here as it is a well established concept in particularly terrestrial ecology, which could support the development of an evaluation concept.


In the tradition of ecologists carrying capacity of an ecosystem is defined as the maximum use or disturbance an area can support without unacceptable changes in ecosystem structure or decrease in environmental values. Usually carrying capacity is regarded as, for instance, the maximum population of consumers (e.g. grazing animals) being able to live in a specific area without resulting in detrimental effects such as overgrazing or pollution34.


The carrying capacity is closely related to the resilience of the ecosystem, i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to absorb stresses created by external disturbances without modification of the system.


Human exploitation and carrying capacity


The human exploitation of biological resources has resulted in impact on the global environment, indicating that todays use is above the carrying capacity of the natural ecosystems and thereby insustainable :

  • Exploitation of wild living resources
  • Intensification of agriculture, forestry, and aquaculture
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Wetland drainage and reclamation
  • Overgrazing, deforestation, desertification and degradation
  • Detrimental effects of species introduced by humans
  • Building developments
  • Pollution of soil, water and atmosphere
  • Global climate change

Sustainability


Sustainable development characterises a development that meets the need and aspirations of the current generation without compromising the ability to meet those of a future generation.


Conservation of biological resources for sustainable development has three main objectives (modified after35):

  • to maintain essential ecological processes and dynamic systems.
  • to preserve biological diversity.
  • to ensure sustainable utilisation of species and ecosystems.
  • Proper area management as a prerequisite


    Most of the environmental considerations behind a given biological resource can be summed up as two key assumptions:

    1. Whether land use on a local and regional scale is managed on a sustainable and environmentally sound basis.

      By land use management is understood the allocation of land to farming, grazing, forestry, settlement and infrastructure, and wildland.


    2. Whether cultivation or management practices of specific areas are sustainable and environmentally sound.

      This point refers to the land owner's practice.

    Land management and cultivation practice are complex issues, often with profound socio-economic implications on a local or regional scale. The complexity is further increased by the spatial heterogeneity of the civilised world. Environmental considerations are being applied to these issues in many countries and regions.


    Commercial agriculture


    In commercial agriculture and forestry the production is usually based on an input of fertilisers, pesticides and irrigation. Commercial agriculture does not only effect the area of arable land but will always have impact on adjacent natural ecosystems in terms of fragmentation, eutrophication, obstruction of migrating species etc.


    Traditional resource management practices


    In contrast a number of traditional resource management practices have supported the maintenance of valuable habitats and biological diversity. Low input agriculture maintain important biological resources as farmers frequently grow mixtures of different crops adapted to different localities in order to reduce the risk of loss to pests or extreme weather. Environmentally sound silvicultural systems such as selection felling can in the same way maintain local diversity and ecosystem function, as the areas are constantly covered with the stand and no clear-cuttings occur.


    Environmentally sound biological production is a relevant cleaner technology concern


    Therefore, it is a relevant concern whether a given biological resource, available for technological elaboration, has been produced under environmentally sound conditions. This concern applies especially to raw materials derived from remote sources. A major fault at this point could considerably affect an otherwise clean technology.


    4.5.2 Evaluation Concept


    Framework


    Human utilization of biological resources occurs in two predominant ways:

    • Direct utilisation of a wild resource e.g. fishing or hunting (exploitation)
    • Utilisation of land for agriculture or forestry


    • It is assumed that agricultural resources and forestry can be assessed on a common basis.

    Characteristics of biological resources


    The framework for evaluation is based on the common characteristics of biological resources:

    • All biological resources are the result of photosynthetic primary production in natural or managed (eco)systems, each system having a limited yield per unit area.


    • The overall annual production rate of biological resources is limited, and sustainable use must account for the global demand for food, non-food utilisation and nature protection.

    In a cleaner technology framework the immediate resource input can be characterised as a certain amount and type of biomass required per produced unit.


    Biological materials are normally specified by organisms


    In this study the qualitative characteristics of a given biological material is referred to as "type". This term was found particularly suitable in this context because the users of biological resources generally specify their requirements in terms of the organism or range of organisms required, and the part of that organism, which is demanded. There may be other qualitative requirements for production, but they are less likely to be of any significance for environmental assessment. The assumption that the user will specify organism of origin can be used as basis for the practical assessment approach.


    The potential for re-cycling of biological resources differs widely between materials and application, as materials of biological origin have an inherent, but highly variable potential for degradation. Re-cycling of paper is probably the most familiar example. Re-cycling of biological resources often leads to successively lower grade products, with combustion as the typical end-use.


    Biomass and area are related


    Production of a given amount of biomass again represents an area requirement, which varies depending on the type of biomass and the ecological conditions.


    It should be noted that area requirement relates, not to an amount of biomass (e.g. kg), but to an annual yield or consumption rate (e.g. kg/year).


    Interaction with other resources


    Other resources


    The availability and utilisation of biological resources have complex interactions with the other focus areas evaluated in this study. Major interactions are identified below:


    Water resource

    • The water resource is the overall key factor for biological production in terrestrial ecosystems. (In this context the water resource is understood as fresh water). Availability of water is directly limiting the amount produced per unit area per year over most of the Earth. Northern and Central Europe belong to the relatively few zones where this dependence is relieved due to a cool, humid climate.

    Energy

    • Utilisation as an energy resource. This utilisation may under some circumstances compete with area use for food production and structural compounds. However, utilisation for energy is often an incidental earning based on the low grade fraction of a crop, such as straw or "scrap" wood.

    Substitution of non-renewable resources

    • Utilisation as substitute for non-renewable resources. In numerous cases biological resources can substitute non-renewable resources. Examples include wood for structures, and various materials and chemicals where oil can be substituted by natural compounds as raw materials. In this way a renewable resource is introduced, but it is drawn from a limited annual potential, which involves the global demand for food.

    Pollution

    • Biological production is sensitive to pollution in numerous respects, and can thereby be affected by technology.

    4.5.3 Potential indicators


    The indicators described below are selected environmental parameters that provide a measure of impact on a qualitative/semi-quantitative scale. In order to create a scientifically rigorous basis for their potential use, they must be well defined and possible to estimate with satisfactory precision.


    The proposed indicators for assessment of impact on biological resources comprise:

    • area
    • biomass
    • biodiversity
    • freshwater resources

    Area


    Arable areas


    World-wide there is a total of 13.15 x 109 ha of land, but most of it is not suitable for cultivation. About half of it is non-arable and consists of mountains, glaciers, deserts, swamps etc. About 25 % of the areas supports sufficient vegetation to provide grazing for animals but cannot be cultivated. This leaves 25% of the land with physical potential for cultivation, but only half of this potentially arable land is actually under cultivation36. The cultivation value of the potentially arable land can furthermore be decreased by:

    • drought
    • mineral stress
    • shallow depth
    • water excess
    • extreme climatic conditions

    Soil classification


    Soil productivity and cultivation potential depends on soil properties such as

    • topography
    • natural drainage
    • texture and organic matter content of the top soil
    • texture of the subsoil
    • field capacity
    • structure and porosity

    In the classification of soils also the following climatic factors are taken into account

    • precipitation
    • solar radiation
    • temperature
    • potential evapotranspiration
    • actual evapotranspiration

    Soil fertility depends on the amount of accessible water, which in most cases is the only limiting factor to agricultural plant production. Soil fertility in terms of plant nutrient availability plays a minor or secondary role36.


    Commercial agriculture has led to considerable changes in the landscapes, transforming the complex mosaic of micro habitats into a uniform unity favouring a few crop species. Small landscape elements such as hedgerows, fallow-fields, tree groves and riparian vegetation are often lost in this process.


    Exploitation and nature protection


    Given a limited total land area it is obvious that nature protection, and thereby biodiversity is affected by land occupation for cultivation and other exploitation of biological resources.


    Though culture and nature can be seen as alternatives for land use they are not simply interchangeable, for several reasons.

    • Between intensive culture and wildlands there is a wide range of practices for extensive culture and exploitation. Extensive exploitation applies to many areas which are commonly perceived as nature, and extensive exploitation is the economic basis for much of the nature protection that is practised at present.


    • Extensive utilisation is often caused by a lack of suitability for intensive utilisation. This may be due to factors like soil conditions, slope or remote location. Often, however, the suitability is governed by climate, with the water balance as the key factor. Large areas in arid or semi-arid zones are managed by extensive grazing or forestry, and can only be cultured more intensively if irrigation is provided. The significance of the water balance is discussed in more detail later in this section (p. 77).

    Areas of special conservation value


    Areas special conservation values usually possess one or more of the following qualities:

    • varied wildlife populations (number/area)
    • natural functional plant communities (number/area)
    • habitat corridors (km per type)
    • recreational and amenity values (number of visitors/area)
    • educational or scientific potential
    • scenery

    The assessment of soft values such as scenery and educational or scientific potential is extremely difficult.


    The following indicators for assessing the impact of agriculture and forestry on biological resources, as well as the detrimental effects on the nature areas have been proposed (modified after proposal by The European Commission, Eurostat9)

    • area used for intensive agriculture (% of total arable land area)
    • area of forest cultivated with exotic species in monoculture (% of total managed forest area)
    • clearance of natural and semi-natural forested areas (ha/year)
    • loss of natural and semi-natural grasslands (ha/year)
    • landscape fragmentation by roads/inter-sections (km/ha per habitat type)
    • loss of corridors, linear landscape elements (km/year)
    • urbanisation of rural areas (ha or % of total per habitat type)

    One major problem in using these indicators is that they are too difficult to relate to the amount of products derived from biological resources, e.g. how many km of dispersal corridor is lost per kg barley grain produced?


    Area as an aggregated indicator?


    As described above biological production can in most (80%) cases be related to a specific area of land. The production in this specific area will influence other factors depending on the area management and/or production system:

    • freshwater resources
    • potential biomass production
    • biodiversity potential

    Biomass


    The term biomass is commonly used for arbitrary dry matter directly obtained from biological production. In this study it is used as a common term for the resource input, indicating that it can be characterised by its weight.


    It is obvious, however, that technological use of biomass depends strictly on its composition and type. This is true for typical non-food resources like timber, vegetable oil and fibre, e.g. cotton.


    High-grade and low-grade fractions of biomass


    Most crops can be divided into a high-grade fraction and one or more low-grade fractions. Examples of low-grade fractions are timber refuse, straw, and molasses.


    In many cases the economic interest of the land owner is based entirely on the high-grade fraction. If market conditions do not favour utilisation of the low-grade fraction it is often simply abandoned: allowed to decompose, or burned. Transport is often a key problem with resources of low value per unit weight.


    When biomass is viewed as a renewable resource having a limited annual exploitation rate, however, the best resource economy would be utilising also the low-grade fractions of biomass.


    In practice energy production is the most wide-spread use of low-grade fractions, but several examples exist of upgraded use due to new technologies. Use of timber refuse for chipboard is a familiar example.


    From an assessment point of view it clearly makes a difference whether a resource demand relates to a high-grade resource with alternative use or an otherwise useless low-grade fraction, to mention the extreme cases. The first case would increase the demand of land use, the second would not. Many practical cases are intermediate in this sense.


    Biomass as an indicator?


    Data on biomass are both well documented and readily available data in most cases of utilisation. For many specific resources the demand for a given technology can be related to an annual potential resource in an operational way.


    An advantage of biomass is that the effect of differences in land fertility is cancelled as long as the same resource is considered. Often, however, one biological production can replace another, depending on market conditions.


    The environmental impact of different productions differ widely. This includes the impact on area demand as well as impacts on nature protection.


    In situations where alternative technologies utilise the same resource, biomass is clearly the most efficient parameter, as it relates directly to the demand. The same is true for comparisons involving resources which are reasonably comparable with respect to quality and conditions for cultivation.


    When a comparison involves widely different biological resources, however, biomass cannot account for the differences in impact due to cultivation or exploitation.


    Biodiversity


    Biodiversity can be seen as an indicator for nature protection. A major reason for concern about biodiversity is the fact that loss of a biological species is an irreversible event, where its genetic information is lost.


    Loss of species is a concern at the global level, and also on a more local scale, when rare species of limited distribution are considered. On a local scale, however, biodiversity can be affected in numerous ways by human practice, as well as by local disappearance and immigration of species, and thereby reflects the local environmental conditions, and to some extent the immediate situation.


    Definition


    Biological diversity is defined as the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and aquatic ecosystems and the complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems34.


    The most common measure for biodiversity is the number of species per area. It is important to emphasise that the biological diversity not only constitutes in the diversity of the species. Genetic diversity and diversity of habitats are equally important.


    The compositions and levels of biodiversity


    Diversity can be regarded as ecological, genetic and organismal (taxonomic) diversity, which comprises the following levels:


    Ecological diversity

    Genetic diversity

    Taxonomic diversity

    biomes
    bioregions
    landscapes
    ecosystems
    habitats
    niches

    populations
    individuals
    chromosomes
    genes
    nucleotides

    families
    genera
    species
    subspecies
    varieties


    Complete lists of species can be difficult to obtain, and even when they can be obtained they may not be a good measure for site value. Temporary conditions may inflate the total species list with common and widespread species37. Species traits may therefore be a desirable component.


    Indicator species


    An indicator species is a species whose status provides information on the overall biotic or abiotic conditions of the ecosystem. They reflect the quality and changes in the environmental conditions as well as aspects of community composition. The presence/absence of these particular species can be used as parameters that provide a measure of an impact, at least at some qualitative scale. Indicator species can be useful tools in estimating environmental impact.


    Rare and endangered species


    The number of rare or threatened species in a community is widely used as an indicator for the value of a specific site. The national "red lists" of rare, vulnerable and endangered species comprises many species which are genetically impoverished, variable in population density, or on their limit of geographical distribution34, and may therefore be too incalculable for use as indicators.


    Many rare species are slow growing, long-lived species of modest fecundity being dependent on permanent habitat conditions38. These rare species are usually rare because of lack of suitable habitats. This suggests that the number of habitat types in a specific landscape would be a better tool for evaluating biological diversity.


    Keystone species


    The best way to minimise decline in species number is to maintain the integrity of ecosystem function39. It is therefore important to be concerned with the species that are significant to ecosystem function (the so-called keystone species), rather than the total number of species present in the ecosystem.


    Keystone species are defined as species whose loss from the ecosystem would cause a greater than average change in other species populations and ecosystem processes, species which have a large effect on other species in a community34. Examples could be the beech trees in a forest or the krill in the Southern Arctic Ocean.


    Impacts on biodiversity can be quantified in several ways :

    • decline in numbers of keystone species in different habitat types (number/habitat type/year)
    • decline in number of indicator species in different habitat types (number/habitat type/year)
    • decline in number of natural and semi-natural habitats in a specific landscape (number/type/year)
    • decline in number of landscape elements in a specific landscape (number/type/year)
    • loss of genetic resources through non-utilisation of available livestock genetic pool, crop species and varieties (number of available species and varieties) hunting or collection of wild flora and fauna (number of specimens or individuals killed or collected/year/habitat type)
    • loss of genetic or habitat integrity by anthropogenic introduction of invasive species (number of species naturalised/ ha or habitat type).

    Biological diversity as an aggregated indicator?


    Measures of species diversity have application in conservation assessment, it being argued that sites with high diversity are more valuable than those with low diversity39. Low biodiversity of an ecosystem is not always an indicator of negative changes in the ecosystem. In for instance dunes, heaths, and raised bogs a high diversity of vascular plant species can be an indication of human impact such as disturbance, eutrophication, or invasion.


    Impacts on biodiversity can be quantified in several ways :

    • decline in numbers of keystone species in different habitat types (number/habitat type/year)
    • decline in number of indicator species in different habitat types (number/habitat type/year)
    • decline in number of natural and semi-natural habitats in a specific landscape (number/type/year)
    • decline in number of landscape elements in a specific landscape (number/type/year)
    • loss of genetic resources through non-utilisation of available livestock genetic pool, crop species and varieties (number of available species and varieties) hunting or collection of wild flora and fauna (number of specimens or individuals killed or collected/year/habitat type)
    • loss of genetic or habitat integrity by anthropogenic introduction of invasive species (number of species naturalised/ ha or habitat type).

    Biological diversity as an aggregated indicator?


    Measures of species diversity have application in conservation assessment, it being argued that sites with high diversity are more valuable than those with low diversity. Low biodiversity of an ecosystem is not always an indicator of negative changes in the ecosystem. In for instance dunes, heaths, and raised bogs a high diversity of vascular plant species can be an indication of human impact such as disturbance, eutrophication, or invasion.


    Biological diversity does not consider important ecological dynamic processes such as nutrient flows, energy flows, species migration and dispersal, and succession.


    In relation to assessment of technologies, however, the main problem is, that in most cases the relationship between exploitation of biological resources and impacts on biodiversity is not sufficiently well defined to establish biodiversity as an indicator parameter. In such cases the impact on biodiversity must either be handled by

    • case-by-case assessment,
    • reference to the general situation: that an increased resource demand leads to an increased area demand, again leading to a loss of diversity,
    • or by testing the assumption of good land management practices.

    If a technology does not involve mass consumption of biological resources, its impact on biodiversity may be trivial.


    When specific valuable compounds, derived from particular natural species, are exploited, the existence of the affected species may soon be challenged. In such cases the relationship between technology and biodiversity is easily established by relating demand to population size and fertility. Recent examples of such challenges to biodiversity have been reviewed by Pain40.


    Fresh-water resources


    The fresh-water resource is the principal limiting factor for biological production on land, when viewed on a regional or global scale. This relationship is most conspicuous in warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical climates, while in cold-temperate and arctic climates the water resource problems have a more local character and relate more to water quality than to amount.


    The dependence of biological production on water has several implications:

    • In situations with a demand for water, alternative uses give rise to serious and complicated conflicts. A classical example is the conflict between hydropower and irrigation demands, which is a familiar and wide-spread problem in developing countries. This conflict also is a key example of interaction between biological resources and energy.
    • Impacts of climate change will typically depend on the extent to which the water balance is affected. In this way the emissions from human activity can have a feed-back impact on resource availability.

    In the global context water is generally considered the most critical limiting resource for human civilisation.


    Further, the large-scale exploitation of water disturbs the natural water balance, often leading to profound impacts on nature protection and biodiversity.


    The amounts of water involved in regional conflicts of interest, such as land use, are several orders of magnitude higher than any industrial demand of water.


    To assess water resources as a potential indicator for biological resources, it can be noted that large-scale water balances are well studied, both on local, regional and global levels, due to the vital economic interests involved. Thus an excellent reference basis and operational methods for characterisation are available.


    The relationship to a given demand of biological resources is less obvious, and a generic relationship is probably not practicable. In more specific cases, where it can be shown that increased demand of a given resource leads directly to increased demand of irrigated land, the water resource demand is a highly relevant indicator, as it is likely to be a regional key issue.


    Freshwater resource as an aggregated indicator?


    The water resource is certainly a key factor for biological production in the global perspective. Further it has the operational advantage that the water balance is well covered by monitoring, globally as well as regionally.


    The disadvantages of the water resource are that its relationship to specific resource inputs is of an indirect nature with several intermediate steps, and that it interacts with other climatic and geographic factors in a complex way. For these reasons impact on the water resource is not found to be an operational indicator for the present purpose.


    Marine resources


    Exploitation of marine biological resources is predominated by food production. In general only high-grade products like fish meat are relevant in view of the cost and energy consumption for retrieval.


    Regulation of marine exploitation is a highly complex and sensitive political issue for numerous reasons.


    In this context the possible utilisation of a marine resource for non-food technology on a large scale, and the impact of the new demand created, would most likely be governed by considerations which cannot be expressed on a common basis.


    For these reasons the utilisation of marine resources is not seen as comparable with land-based biological resources, and it is not attempted to identify common indicators. Utilisation of marine resources should in general be a matter of concern, and reservations about sustainable practices should be made.


    Biological diversity does not consider important ecological dynamic processes such as nutrient flows, energy flows, species migration and dispersal, and succession.


    In relation to assessment of technologies, however, the main problem is, that in most cases the relationship between exploitation of biological resources and impacts on biodiversity is not sufficiently well defined to establish biodiversity as an indicator parameter. In such cases the impact on biodiversity must either be handled by

    • case-by-case assessment,
    • reference to the general situation: that an increased resource demand leads to an increased area demand, again leading to a loss of diversity,
    • or by testing the assumption of good land management practices.

    If a technology does not involve mass consumption of biological resources, its impact on biodiversity may be trivial.


    When specific valuable compounds, derived from particular natural species, are exploited, the existence of the affected species may soon be challenged. In such cases the relationship between technology and biodiversity is easily established by relating demand to population size and fertility. Recent examples of such challenges to biodiversity have been reviewed by Pain40.


    Fresh-water resources


    The fresh-water resource is the principal limiting factor for biological production on land, when viewed on a regional or global scale. This relationship is most conspicuous in warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical climates, while in cold-temperate and arctic climates the water resource problems have a more local character and relate more to water quality than to amount.


    The dependence of biological production on water has several implications:

    • In situations with a demand for water, alternative uses give rise to serious and complicated conflicts. A classical example is the conflict between hydropower and irrigation demands, which is a familiar and wide-spread problem in developing countries. This conflict also is a key example of interaction between biological resources and energy.


    • Impacts of climate change will typically depend on the extent to which the water balance is affected. In this way the emissions from human activity can have a feed-back impact on resource availability.

    In the global context water is generally considered the most critical limiting resource for human civilisation.


    Further, the large-scale exploitation of water disturbs the natural water balance, often leading to profound impacts on nature protection and biodiversity.


    The amounts of water involved in regional conflicts of interest, such as land use, are several orders of magnitude higher than any industrial demand of water.


    To assess water resources as a potential indicator for biological resources, it can be noted that large-scale water balances are well studied, both on local, regional and global levels, due to the vital economic interests involved. Thus an excellent reference basis and operational methods for characterisation are available.


    The relationship to a given demand of biological resources is less obvious, and a generic relationship is probably not practicable. In more specific cases, where it can be shown that increased demand of a given resource leads directly to increased demand of irrigated land, the water resource demand is a highly relevant indicator, as it is likely to be a regional key issue.


    Freshwater resource as an aggregated indicator?


    The water resource is certainly a key factor for biological production in the global perspective. Further it has the operational advantage that the water balance is well covered by monitoring, globally as well as regionally.


    The disadvantages of the water resource are that its relationship to specific resource inputs is of an indirect nature with several intermediate steps, and that it interacts with other climatic and geographic factors in a complex way. For these reasons impact on the water resource is not found to be an operational indicator for the present purpose.


    Marine resources


    Exploitation of marine biological resources is predominated by food production. In general only high-grade products like fish meat are relevant in view of the cost and energy consumption for retrieval.


    Regulation of marine exploitation is a highly complex and sensitive political issue for numerous reasons.


    In this context the possible utilisation of a marine resource for non-food technology on a large scale, and the impact of the new demand created, would most likely be governed by considerations which cannot be expressed on a common basis.


    For these reasons the utilisation of marine resources is not seen as comparable with land-based biological resources, and it is not attempted to identify common indicators. Utilisation of marine resources should in general be a matter of concern, and reservations about sustainable practices should be made.


    4.5.4 Discussion


    General


    The assessment of biological resource utilisation can be viewed as indicated on fig. 4.5.1. First the biological resource input has to be characterised with respect to amount and type. Then the method of procurement has to be identified and characterised, focusing on the question whether it can be characterised as cultivation or exploitation.


    Figure 4.5.1: Schematic model of interactions between heat- and waterbalance creating the basis for species pool and cultivation potential in terrestrial ecosystems



    Cultivation - area occupation as an indicator


    When cultivation is considered, the area requirement for the required resource input is estimated. To assess the environmental impact the area occupation should then be related to a relevant measure of the global cultivation potential. This complex issue is discussed shortly below.


    Exploitation - biodiversity as an indicator


    When exploitation is considered, the identification of biological species or range of species is a key to assessment, and an evaluation of exploitation rate in relation to population yield (global and/or local, depending on circumstances) should always be performed, to assess whether there is a potential for over-exploitation. In general, over-exploitation cannot be converted to area occupation, but must be viewed as an independent dimension of impact, affecting biodiversity through the gene pool.


    Many cases of exploitation, however, are intensive enough to affect the habitat area or interfere with potentially cultivable areas. Indeed a range of intermediate practices between cultivation and exploitation exist. When an impact on area occupation can be clearly defined, it should be analysed and utilised for assessment.


    The biological resource basis


    The complexity of the biological resource basis is clearly a problem for establishing an operational assessment basis for terrestrial ecosystems, i.e. a "scale" to compare indicators with. In Fig. 4.5.2 the resource basis is simplified as a box where "cultivation potential" and "species pool" are identified as immediate reference frames for area occupation and exploitation, respectively.


    Figure 4.5.2: Conceptual view of factors affecting the biological resource basis



    The water resource is represented in Fig. 4.5.2 to indicate the complexity of its interaction with the primary biological resource.


    Cultivation potential


    The cultivation potential can ideally be viewed as a sum of normalised areas, accounting for length of growth season, soil quality, sustainability of cultivation practices etc. To define a basis for normalisation and obtain a reasonable degree of international consensus about it is, however, a complex task.


    Normalisation of area


    As a provisional basis for assessment of cleaner technologies a simple estimate of global cultivated area, related to the world population could be used (area per citizen). If the resource impact of a technology is expressed as area occupation per consumer, it can at least be assessed whether or not the resource consumption is significant. An assessment on this basis would be satisfactory as background for comparison of related technologies, as long as the impacts do not include massive or complex changes of key biological resources.


    Species pool


    Biodiversity is here represented by the species pool, indicating that direct impacts of exploitation can be assessed only when the target species or range of species is identified. Further, it must be possible to estimate the sustainable exploitation rate for the target species in terms of amount per year, i.e. the maximum exploitation which permits the population to maintain itself over extended time spans. If the population is exploited for other purposes than the technology considered, this exploitation should be deducted (allocation principle).


    Biodiversity is affected by area reclamation as well. This impact, however, is generally not population specific, but based on the relationship between biodiversity and availability of habitat. It has not been found operational to represent this relationship directly in the assessment framework. Rather, any extension of area demand must be viewed in the perspective of general reduction of habitat for wild organisms.


    4.5.5 Practical implementation


    Annual sustainable yield as reference basis


    For assessment of biological resources it is essential to notice that all assessments must be based on annual rates of production, exploitation etc., because annual sustainable yield is the only valid reference basis for a renewable resource.


    Making up the amounts and identifying the type of biological material required for a production is simple, since the information should be available for any large-scale production.


    In cases where the comparison is focused on different amounts of one familiar resource, it is attractive to maintain the amount itself as an indicator. In more complicated cases, e.g. where alternative resources have to be compared, the area requirement has to be estimated in order to obtain a comparable basis for cultivated resources. Area requirement should be normalised with respect to e.g. soil conditions and length of growth season, at least as far as the ad hoc comparability requires.


    When resources obtained by exploitation are considered, comparison becomes difficult, when resources of different types must be compared. The comparison has to be based on actual exploitation related to sustainable yield of each population. In practice the difference between alternatives will be obvious, even by a simple estimate.


    In more elaborate cases the question of the value of each species may arise. A priori, it may be assumed that any species may be worth preserving. For some species, however, there may be considerations of a key ecological function, meaning that disturbing this population will have wide-spread effects on other species. Further, there may be national or international regulations applying to particular species, which have to be respected.


    The framework outlined here certainly needs further elaboration to account for the complexity of biological resources. However, already in its present form it provides a basis for provisional assessment which will be satisfactory for many cases of cleaner technology.


    4.5.6 Conclusions


    Summing up, the following conclusions can be drawn:

    • Environmental assessments of biological resources consumption should be based on two evaluation areas in CEIDOCT:
      • cultivation
      • exploitation
    • At level 0 the indicator proposed is normalised and aggregated area requirement, including effects of exploitation, supplemented by a logical parameter indicating risk of extinction or system collapse.
    • At level 1 the indicators proposed are for:
      • Cultivation: normalised area requirement, aggregated to account for fertility, water availability, length of growth season etc.
      • Exploitation: integrated measure expressing degree of exploitation of sensitive species, accounting for risk of extinction and collapse of ecosystem structure.
    • At level 2, which is the LCA-level for the other focus areas, the indicators proposed are amounts and types of utilised resources; area requirements, supplemented by indicators of land use and cultivation conditions (e.g. water consumption, nutrients) for the case of cultivation. For exploitation is suggested to use degree of exploitation for individual species.

    The proposed indicators still need some elaboration, so at this stage it has not been possible to finish formalisation of a CEIDOCT/EPI concept for the biological resources consumption. However, the issue has been analysed and structured in an appropriate manner and it will be possible on this basis to finish the development of the CEIDOCT concept for the biological resources to the same level as for the other focus areas.


    The stage to which this discussion has been brought is also seen as a good basis for development of the biological resources as an integrated and operational element of existing LCA-methodologies. Such initiatives are recommended.




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