Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Biodiversity metrics included in life-cycle assessment

Measurements of biodiversity can now be successfully implemented in life-cycle assessments (LCAs) of products and services. The methodology is used to determine the environmental impacts of all stages of production, beginning with the acquisition of raw materials and then production, use and eventual disposal.
Biodiversity metrics included in life-cycle assessment
LCA is crucial to Europe's transition to a green economy as it is used to measure environmental impacts. The methodology is also currently used for benchmarking the sustainability of a product or service and for investment decisions and product development. Moreover, the European Commission has recently chosen to use LCA for calculating environmental indicators in for comparisons between products and organisations.

However, this approach does have limitations, which have restricted the inclusion of LCA indicators for biophysical impacts such as land use, ecosystem services and biodiversity. The result has been biodiversity and ecosystem services either being left outside the scope of the LCA or lacking in accuracy.

The aim of the BIO-LCA (Bio-LCA: Introducing biodiversity in life cycle assessment (LCA)) project was to find improved methods for calculating biodiversity impacts from land use in LCA. It began by organising two scientific events, which brought together LCA practitioners, conservationists, ecologists, policymakers and stakeholders.

Efforts resulted in the inclusion of important drivers of biodiversity change, such as resource overexploitation and the introduction of invasive species, as indicators in the LCA framework. In addition, new approaches were conceived for developing new methods. These include operational models for calculating impacts on biodiversity from land use and land-use change, and recommendations for improving impact assessment models.

A standardised impact assessment methodology was also developed for biodiversity using LCA and made available to researchers for use with environmental metrics tools. The methodology takes into consideration the need for accurate measurements of biodiversity together with ease of use by a wide range of users, in line with the EU's integrated product policy and potential European LCA product-level standard.

BIO-LCA outcomes will help the EU transform itself into a more sustainable economy through its inclusion of biodiversity indicators in LCA. This will enable it to compete more effectively in the global market place while improving the quality of life of its citizens.

Related information


Biodiversity, life-cycle assessment, environmental impacts, land use, ecosystem services
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