Monthly Archives: February 2014

Life Cycle Inventory Application in Wood Products Industry

by  Sevtap Erdogan, serdogan@vt.edu

Identifying the need of life cycle assessment is helpful in order to have a better idea of how to figure out life cycle inventory method. The environmental impacts of human attitude towards the usage of products and services have effect on sustainable development. These environmental impacts might be the emissions into the environment, high energy use or land use, which depends on the products end-of-life status such as collection/sorting, reuse, recycling, waste disposal (Rebitzer et all, 2004). Environmental management concept used to be an alternative to make regulations on how to determine and minimize the defects of products to the environment along with organizations, business consultants and public concerns. However, life cycle assessment ( LCA) is the optimal method to look into the whole concept considering process chain and life time of products and their effects (Horne et all, 2009).

LCI sevtap

In other words, LCI analysis gives the data to determine energy input, needed material and environmental emission of a product system in their whole life cycle so that this given data could be used to maintain optimum desired data flow form ‘cradle to grave’ or ‘cradle to cradle’ ( Gong et all, 2009).

In their case study Puettmann and Wilson (2005) evaluated the life-cycle analysis of wood products by focusing on cradle-to-gate life cycle inventory method. Raw materials, including fuel resources and emission to air, water, and land for glued-laminated timbers, kiln-dried and green softwood lumber, laminated veneer lumber, softwood plywood, and oriented strandboard were the measuring units of the life-cycle inventory. Results showed that when producing wood components , a third of needed their energy was derived from renewable resources and the rest was from non-renewable resources used with considering forest regeneration and harvesting or transportation.

Wood is one of the most renewable material and regenerative fuel around the world which makes it accurate to investigate life cycle assessment within wooden products. Packaging materials are one of the good example of its importance in the life cycle stages. Using life cycle assessment helps to find out packaging container datasets which is convenient to be able to model different types of containers or boxes. This allows even to produce environmental friendly packaging goods (Hischier et all, 2005).

Specifically related example with wood-based products was conducted examining the life cycle inventory of medium density fiberboard (MDF) by focusing especially in the aspects of electricity profile and transportation gates. It is found out that both the transport of the product and electricity generation have significant influence on life cycle inventory analysis in the process of MDF manufacturing. Furthermore, the location of the process is another parameter effect LCI analysis depending on the distance ( Rivela et all, 2007).

In conclusion, the adaptation of life cycle assessment methodology and especially life cycle inventory analysis of wood products have been growing compared to last twenty years relatively in Europe and Northern America. Implementing and analyzing the life cycle inventory provides more competing products which leads to success in sustainable development and better decision makings within the process ( Werner and Richter, 2007).

References

  • Gong, X. Z., Nie, Z. R., Wang, Z. H., & Zuo, T. Y. (2009). Algorithm for Materials Life Cycle Inventory. Journal of Beijing University of Technology12, 018.
  • Hischier, R., Althaus, H. J., & Werner, F. (2005). Developments in wood and packaging materials life cycle inventories in ecoinvent (9 pp). The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment10(1), 50-58.
  • Horne, R. E., Grant, T., & Verghese, K. L. (2009). Life cycle assessment: principles, practice and prospects. Csiro Publishing.
  • Puettmann, M. E., & Wilson, J. B. (2005). Life-cycle analysis of wood products: cradle-to-gate LCI of residential wood building materials. Wood and Fiber Science37, 18-29.
  • Rebitzer, G., Ekvall, T., Frischknecht, R., Hunkeler, D., Norris, G., Rydberg, T., … & Pennington, D. W. (2004). Life cycle assessment: Part 1: Framework, goal and scope definition, inventory analysis, and applications. Environment international30(5), 701-720.
  • Rivela, B., Moreira, M. T., & Feijoo, G. (2007). Life cycle inventory of medium density fibreboard. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment12(3), 143-150.
  • Werner, F., & Richter, K. (2007). Wooden building products in comparative LCA. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment12(7), 470-479.