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Environmental systems analysis tools: an overview
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Environmental Strategic Analysis.
2005 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 13, no 12, 1165-1173 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A large number of tools for assessing environmental impacts are available. It is of interest to characterise different tools in order to better understand their relationships and the appropriateness of different tools in different situations. The characteristics used here are whether the tools are procedural or analytical, what types of impacts are included, what the object of the study is and whether the studies are descriptive or change-orientated. For each object discussed here, there is a tool focusing on both use of natural resources and environmental impacts that seems to be the most suitable. Because different tools focus on different objects, different tools cannot in general easily replace each other.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 13, no 12, 1165-1173 p.
Keyword [en]
Decision making, Environmental protection, Life cycle, Natural resources, Project management, Societies and institutions
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-5559DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2004.06.004ISI: 000230017300005Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-15544380518OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-5559DiVA: diva2:9962
Note
QC 20100610Available from: 2006-04-06 Created: 2006-04-06 Last updated: 2017-11-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Environmental systems analysis tools for decision-making: LCA and Swedish waste management as an example
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Environmental systems analysis tools for decision-making: LCA and Swedish waste management as an example
2006 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other scientific)
Abstract [en]

Decisions are made based on information of different kinds. Several tools have been developed to facilitate the inclusion of environmental aspects in decision-making on different levels. Which tool to use in a specific decision-making situation depends on the decision context. This thesis discusses the choice between different environmental systems analysis (ESA) tools and suggests that key factors influencing the choice of ESA tool are object of study, impacts considered and information type regarding sitespecificity and according to the DPSIR-framework.

Waste management in Sweden is used as an example to illustrate decision-making situations, but discussions concerning choice of tools are also thought to be of general concern. It is suggested that there is a need for a number of ESA tools in waste management decision-making. Procedural tools like Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) should be used e.g. by companies applying for development of waste management facilities and by public authorities preparing plans and programmes. Within these procedural tools analytical tools providing relevant information could be used, e.g. Risk Assessment (RA), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) or Substance Flow Analysis (SFA). Analytical tools may also be used separately. If the decision-making situation concerns a choice between different waste management options, such as recycling, incineration and landfilling, environmental aspects could be assessed using LCA or Material Input Per unit Service (MIPS). To study certain substances within the waste system, RA or SFA could be used.

An LCA of different strategies for treatment of municipal solid waste was made. A conclusion from this study is that the waste hierarchy is valid as a rule of thumb. Suggestions resulting from this study are that decisions promoting recycling of paper and plastics should be pursued, preferably in combination with decisions promoting the use of plastics replacing plastics made from virgin sources. The study further identifies a need for limiting transportation by private car for options requiring source separation of waste. When recycling is not an alternative, incineration is in general preferable to landfilling. Key issues that may affect the ranking of the waste treatment options include alternative energy sources, the material the recycled material replaces and the time perspective chosen.

It is suggested that LCA may be a useful tool in waste management, both on its own and as a part of an SEA. Results from LCAs can provide advice on ranking of alternatives. More importantly, key assumptions and value choices that may influence the rankings can be highlighted and thus made clear to the decision-makers. In general, LCA results are not site-specific and provide information in the form of potential environmental impacts, and thus could be combined with other tools if other type of information is needed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2006. 56 p.
Series
Trita-SOM , ISSN 1653-6126 ; 06:002
National Category
Civil Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-3904 (URN)91-7178-304-0 (ISBN)
Presentation
2006-04-07, Sal L43, KTH, Drottning Kristinas väg 30, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100610Available from: 2006-04-06 Created: 2006-04-06 Last updated: 2010-06-10Bibliographically approved
2. Assessment of media and communication from a sustainability perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Assessment of media and communication from a sustainability perspective
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to assess potential environmental impacts of media and communication and to contribute to the development of methods for sustainability assessment. Although the main focus is on printed and electronic media products and environmental impacts, a broader sector analysis is also included and social aspects are discussed. The thesis provides a review of different environmental assessment tools in order to better understand their relationships and the appropriateness of different tools in different situations. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is used to assess printed and electronic versions of newspapers, books and invoices. Results of the screening LCAs of newspapers and books indicate that when comparing printed and electronic versions there are benefits and drawbacks for both. For news and books read on e-reading devices with energy efficient e-ink screens, the main environmental impacts in the studies stemmed from the production of the device and partly from disposal, with the latter having the potential to reduce some environmental impacts through recycling of materials. However, there are data gaps regarding the production of the e-reading devices, most notably for the e-ink screen and the waste management of obsolete e-reading devices. Existing data on internet energy use are uncertain. The potential impacts from a hypothetical total change from paper invoices to electronic invoices in Sweden were assessed through a screening consequential LCA regarding greenhouse gas emissions and cumulative energy demand. The results indicate that emissions and energy demand could decrease as a result of a change. The screening LCAs performed indicate that users’ practices could substantially influence the environmental impacts. Key factors which can influence results and comparisons of printed and electronic media products are total use of electronic devices, total use of printed media, amount and type of paper, energy use of electronic devices, potential printing of electronic media, electricity mix, and the system boundaries set for the assessments.

To get a wider perspective, a sector study of the ICT sector and media sector concerning global greenhouse gas emissions and operational electricity use was performed. It was estimated that the contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions in 2007 was roughly 1-2 % for each sector. To assess media and communication products from a sustainability perspective, social aspects should also be covered. The author participated in an international project group on social aspects and LCA, one outcome from which was guidelines for social LCA (S-LCA). In addition to providing guidance for S-LCA, another important role of the guidelines is to facilitate discussions, criticism and proposals for improvement and development of the methodology being developed.

The LCA and sector studies in this thesis are limited to direct and to some extent indirect environmental impacts. Further studies of the environmental impacts of more long-term changes in practices and potential structural changes, as well as potential social impacts, could provide important additional insights. This could increase the possibility of facilitating sustainable practices related to ICT and media.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH, 2010. 74 p.
Series
Trita-SOM , ISSN 1653-6126 ; 2010-05
Keyword
electronic media, e-reading device, print media, newspaper, book, invoice, information and communication technology (ICT), environmental assessment, life cycle assessment (LCA), social life cycle assessment (S-LCA), sector analysis
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Other Environmental Engineering Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-12502 (URN)978-91-7415-636-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-05-27, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20100610Available from: 2010-05-03 Created: 2010-04-29 Last updated: 2010-06-10Bibliographically approved

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