Worldsteel: Life Cycle Assessement needed to understand products’ environmental impact
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At the 45th annual meeting of the World Steel Association (worldsteel) held in Paris on October 13, manager of worldsteel's life cycle assessment program Clare Broadbent stated that to fully understand the impact of a certain product on the environment life cycle assessment (LCA) emerges as a comprehensive tool which is used to evaluate the environmental impact of the full value chain required to make a final product, beginning from raw material extraction, to manufacturing and then recycling, and beginning again from the first step.
Ms. Broadbent said that this approach is increasingly used by industries, governments and environmental groups to assist with decision making for environment-related strategies and material selection, adding that LCA is also used to determine a product's carbon footprint.
On the other hand, Cees ten Broek, program director of WorldAutoSteel, told the press, "When vehicle emissions assessment is focused solely on emissions produced during the driving phase (tailpipe), this encourages the use of greenhouse gas-intensive materials in an effort to reduce vehicle weight and fuel consumption. However, this may have the unintended consequence of increasing greenhouse gas emissions during the vehicle's total life cycle. Mr. Broek also stressed that alternative materials, such as aluminium, magnesium and carbon fiber, produce emissions during their manufacture that are five to 20 times greater than steel.
"Legislation that focuses only on one part of the vehicle's life cycle will become immediately out of date as the electric vehicle becomes more prominent on the road", said ten Broek. "We are only shifting the problem to other vehicle life cycle phases". Director of worldsteel Edwin Basson added that electric cars are less energy efficient as compared to petroleum or diesel vehicles, when efficiency in the power generation considered.
Mr. ten Broek then called for a shift from tailpipe emission regulations to a life cycle assessment approach that effectively measures the carbon footprint of today's and future cars.
WorldAutoSteel recently released results of a global steel industry initiative, the FutureSteelVehicle (FSV), which features fully engineered steel body structure designs for electrified vehicles that reduce total life cycle emissions by nearly 70 percent and vehicle weight by 35 percent compared to a benchmark.