Quantification of Biodiversity in Life Cycle Analysis - Literature assessment on the latest developments for biodiversity quantification in LCA frameworks
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Research on biodiversity loss due to human activities has gained serious interest because of major decrease in biodiversity over the last century. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is a widely used multistep management tool to assess the environmental impacts of the entire life cycle of a human artefact: a product, a service, or an activity. In four steps, the goal and scope of an assessment are defined, data is collected, impacts are calculated, and conclusions are drawn to make better business decisions. It creates a complete product assessment, from the very first to the very last life stage of the product. In the third step of an LCA, the life cycle impact assessment (LCIA), the impact on biodiversity can be quantified. Biodiversity quantification is hard, generally, because of lacking data. ReCiPe2016 is an LCA method mainly used in the Netherlands nowadays. Since ReCiPe2016, development on biodiversity quantification has been ongoing. This literature assessment includes five methods: ReCiPe2016, IMPACT World+, LC-IMPACT, PBF, and BIA+. The methods are assessed on how they address the four main knowledge gaps for biodiversity quantification: ‘species diversity’, ‘spatial resolution assessment vs data’, ‘drivers for biodiversity loss’, and ‘trade-off LCA and biology’. The five methods are introduced individually, their general framework and how they include biodiversity quantification is explained. Afterwards is shown how each knowledge gap is addressed by the methods. This assessment shows, although improvements have been introduced for all gaps in the last few years, some are better covered than others. Future development on biodiversity in LCA would be to include ecosystem services and positive impacts on biodiversity. Altogether, LCA results should always be interpreted with care and with acknowledgement for the modelling choices, hypotheses, and limitations.