Mineral Resources in LCIA: Mapping the path forward

Wednesday, October 14, 2015  
Natural History Museum London

A report of this Workshop has been published at the following URL:http://www.mdpi.com/2079-9276/5/1/12/pdf

There is increasing global interest in using Abiotic Depletion Potential (ADP) as a sustainability indicator in regulatory and voluntary initiatives aiming to promote green products. (See for example the EU's Product Environmental Footprint resources.) Yet, there is international consensus that the Resources Area of Protection in Life Cycle Impact Assessment (through which ADP is estimated) needs to be re-defined.
Originally, LCA used estimates of total crustal content to calculate how many years’ worth of natural resource existed. Later, practitioners began limiting existing stocks to those identified by the United States Geological Survey in its annual Commodity Summaries.
Because of the nature of the ADP equation, the result is highly sensitive to these differences in the assumed stock. At this Workshop, speakers demonstrated that the impact of changing reserve data on ADP characterization factors is significant and that it can result in greatly increased uncertainty of the result and even contradictory material or product selections.
Delegates including academics, consultants, industry and regulators discussed their concerns that current practices serve to exaggerate impacts on availability of abiotic resources and in a way that is inconsistent across resources.
To progress meaningful assessment of future availability of mineral resources, the following needs were identified:
• a common Vision of the potential threat or impact to be characterised
• a shared commitment to use common definitions of Resources & Reserves
• a disciplined prioritisation of Science over commercial or political objectives
• a better understanding of stakeholder’s Incentives for developing LCIA and/or LCSA
• continued listening so as to exchange the necessary expert Knowledge