Environmental Impact Assessment – LCA (Life Cycle Assessment)
What is it?
Environmental assessment is a procedure that ensures that the environmental implications of decisions are taken into account before the decisions are made. Environmental assessment can be undertaken for individual projects, such as a dam, motorway, airport or factory, on the basis of Directive 2011/92/EU (known as ‘Environmental Impact Assessment’ – EIA Directive) or for public plans or programmes on the basis of Directive 2001/42/EC (known as ‘Strategic Environmental Assessment’ – SEA Directive). The common principle of both Directives is to ensure that plans, programmes and projects likely to have significant effects on the environment are made subject to an environmental assessment, prior to their approval or authorisation. Consultation with the public is a key feature of environmental assessment procedures.
It’s All About the Life Cycle
Today, the impact of products and services on the environment has become a key element of decision-making processes. Instead of considering only fragments of environmental impacts such as those resulting from production, use or disposal, societies of the future will have to consider a product’s life cycle as a whole. Against this background, ‘Life Cycle Thinking’ has become a central pillar in environmental policies and sustainable business decision-making. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool to review the environmental impact of products throughout their entire life cycle – (from cradle to grave) – from raw material extraction through transport, manufacturing and use all the way to their end of life. In order for the analysis to be meaningful, it is essential to use consistent and reliable data. Therefore, a crucial first step in the LCA process is the production of a Life Cycle Inventory (LCI). The LCI is an extensive set of data on the relevant energy and material inputs and environmental outputs.
It is within this context that the European Lime Association (EuLA) has developed a ‘cradle to gate’ LCI for quicklime and hydrated lime. The EuLA LCI study is the first representative study covering the European lime production, based on an extensive data collection and processing exercise.
The Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) commissioned by EuLA provides valuable and reliable data to downstream users who intend to carry out LCAs for their products. EuLA is committed to a better understanding of the life cycle of lime products.
The steps of an LCA
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool to review the environmental impact of products throughout their entire life cycle (from cradle to grave) – from raw material extraction through transport, manufacturing and use all the way to their end of life.
LCI Methodology and the Lime Production Process
The aim of the EuLA LCI was to quantify the environmental impacts that occur during the manufacturing of quicklime and hydrated lime produced in Europe.
The European Lime Association (EuLA) ensured reliable and consistent data for its LCI on the production of lime:
The report and the inventories have been developed according to ISO 14040- and ISO 14044-compliant methodologies.
EuLA commissioned the conduct of the LCI study to an independent third party. Plants located in Europe provided data related to their material inputs and environmental outputs, including the use of natural resources, the consumption of water and energy as well as the emissions. These data were used to calculate European averages.
The study covered the production of quicklime and hydrated lime ‘from cradle to gate’, i.e. beginning with the extraction of raw materials from the ground the ‘cradle’), to the finished products, ready for shipping at the gate of the production plant. The data were collected for the three main process steps consisting of mining, calcination and hydration (see graphic below).
One tonne of lime and one tonne of hydrated lime have been used as reference units to which all derived figures were compared. The date is representative of the production conditions prevailing in the EU(27).
The data were rigorously cross-checked for accuracy and consistency.
The results of the LCI covered 99% of all environmental impacts of the lime production process.
The EuLA LCI study is based on data covering more than 70% of all lime production in Europe. It is the most representative LCI available on lime.
The study has been shown to meet the requirements of an independent external review.