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TP11B Modelling of Resource Depletion and Land Use
() Characterisation factors for abiotic resource depletion in LCA.
Huppes, G1, Guinée, J B1, Koning, A1, Oers, L1, Heijungs, R1, 1 CML, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands
ABSTRACT- Operational methods for quantifying abiotic resource depletion in LCA are controversial as many important factors have not been incorporated, and possibly cannot be incorporated in the framework of LCA. Examples are substitutability and long term technical progress. We first made an inventory of possible improvement options of the present baseline method to assess depletion of abiotic resources, as advised in the Dutch Handbook on LCA, focusing on the calculation of factors for compounds, in contrast to elements. Characterisation factors have been derived for a limited set of resources (10 to 15) in order to assess the appropriateness and feasibility of the different options. The resources selected have been used to analyse the sensitivity in choice of the different approaches on the final assessment of abiotic resource depletion. How to estimate the size of the resource reserves and how to link them to potential functions are main entries into the analysis. The size of useful reserves depends on what is considered to be technically and economically feasible. A distinction is made between reserve ultimate (resources in the earth crust), reserve base (resources that have a reasonable potential for becoming economically and technically available) and reserve proven (part of the reserve base which might be extracted or produced at the time of determination based on current economical and technical considerations). It is only after one or more industrial transformation steps, that abiotic resources fulfil various valuable functions in society. These functions are the reason for their extraction and they may be delivered by elements, by compounds (that is a specific chemical and/or physical composition of elements), or by a more aggregate physical characteristic mainly independent of elements or compounds. Therefore, it may be useful to distinguish sub-impact categories under the heading of abiotic resources. An initial proposal for this has been developed, grouping abiotic resources into 3 sub-categories: resources for I) further industrial processing (elements and compounds), II) construction, III) energy supply. Between these subcategories, and maybe even within them, a subsequent weighting step may be required, reflecting a judgement on the relative seriousness of these depletion scores.
Key words: abiotic resources, resource depletion, metals depletion, energy depletion
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