Life Cycle Assessment And Cradletocradle Concept

the initial gathering of raw materials from the earth to the point at which all residuals are returned back to the earth, or cradle-to-grave. LCA results will not be promising for industrial activities that are based on a cradle-to-grave flow of materials. Unfortunately, most manufacturing processes since the Industrial Revolution began are based on a one way, cradle-to-grave flow of materials—starting with the extraction of raw materials, followed by processing, producing, and marketing of the goods, then utilization by consumers, and finally, disposal of waste generation, as shown in Figure 1.1.3 The technological advancements in manufacturing processes and the constantly increasing variety of materials and products have led to a continuous rise in the amounts of waste generated. The cradle-to-grave flow of materials has proven to be just enough to protect the environment if proper and efficient disposal facilities are used. In developing countries, however, improper environmental design and operation of the disposal facility usually cause severe ecological impact as well as depletion of natural resources.

LCA helps identify the impact of the product on the environment throughout its life cycle. The main components of LCA should include the identification and quantification of not only the waste generated through the entire life cycle but also the raw materials and energy requirements throughout the entire life cycle and their environmental impacts.

A lot of work has been done to develop methodologies, guidelines, and benefits for LCA according to the cradle-to-grave concept to protect the environment throughout the life cycle of the product. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has develop a series of international standards to cover LCA in a more global sense, such as ISO14040 (LCA—Principles and Guidelines), ISO14041 (LCA—Life Inventory Analysis), ISO14042 (LCA—Impact Assessment), and ISO14043 (LCA—Interpretation). All ISO 1404Xs that are related to LCA are based on cradle-to-grave approach for environmental protection. It is time now to change the LCA-ISO standard from cradle-to-grave to cradle-to-cradle to protect not only the environment but also the natural resources.

LCA is a very important tool to guarantee that there are no harmful impacts on the environment, starting from extracting the raw material (cradle) all the way to the final disposal in a landfill (grave). In other words, the product's design should be selected, in part, according to safe disposal process. This process protects the environment but will deplete the natural resources. By contrast, under a cradle-to-cradle concept, the product's design would be such that materials could be reused or recycled, no wastes would get produced or would be recycled, and accordingly, no negative impacts on the environment would get generated within the closed loop of life cycle of the product, as shown in Figure 1.2. This can be achieved by having industries change their products from a cradle-to-grave design, where the product will eventually get disposed of in a landfill at the end of its life, to a cradle-to-cradle design, where the materials are circulated in a closed loop without losing any natural resources. The environmental and health impacts —as well as the consequences of depleting the natural resources as a result of using traditional treatment, incineration and/or final disposal through

r Other industry

f \ Extraction of raw materials

Reuse and recycling of products

Cradle to Cradle

Cradle to Cradle

Transportation and marketing systems

Packaging of raw materials and products

FIGURE 1.2 New life cycle analysis based on the cradle-to-cradle concept.

landfill—are becoming more dangerous, and making sustainable development a more urgent need. Establishing or approaching a new LCA based on the concept of cradle to cradle instead of cradle to grave by a full utilization of raw material, water, and energy is a must for sustainable development.4

Braungart and McDonough [2002] proposed a shift from a cradle-to-grave approach where waste products are disposed of in a landfill to a cradle-to-cradle approach, where waste can be used for the production of other products. They recommended the "eco-effective" recycling approach to enable material reuse with high quality. They added that combining different materials in one product prevents the products from being fully recycled. Accordingly, product designers need to plan for the reuse of their products in order to prevent waste generation. This shift in a product's design approach will require an added responsibility to the producer—extended producer responsibility, or EPR—to be able to recycle the products after its lifetime.

The cradle-to-cradle concept promotes sustainable development in a practical approach, as will be discussed throughout this chapter. It is a system of thinking based on the belief that human endeavors can emulate nature's elegant system of safe and regenerative productivity, by transforming industries to sustainable enterprises and eliminating the concept of waste.

Natural ecosystems are based on principles that can be adopted by humans in industry. For example, no waste generation—in natural ecosystems, an organism's waste is consumed by others. This can be applied in industry such that one industry's wastes are another's raw material. Industrial ecology will be discussed later in this chapter. This is the fundamental concept of eco-industrial parks, where industries are grouped together to have a continuous flow of material and no waste generation, as in the case of eco-industrial park in Kalundborg, Denmark, and other places worldwide.

Adopting cradle-to-cradle principles creates a cyclical flow of materials, as opposed to the one-way cradle-to-grave concept. The materials consumed in industry resemble the nutrients that flow cyclically in natural ecosystems and can circulate in one of two metabolisms, biological or technical.

According to the cradle-to-cradle concept, products would be made of materials that can be safely manufactured, used, recovered, and reused, while still maintaining their high value throughout their life cycle. This way, valuable used material can be continuously cycled in closed loops and transformed for reuse as other products. By applying the principle of cradle-to-cradle design and transforming industrial systems to a closed-loop system of material flow, not only will this design save the environment from waste generation and negative impacts, but industries can even benefit from the continuous availability of products made of high-value material even after the end of the product's lifetime.

Renewable Energy Eco Friendly

Renewable Energy Eco Friendly

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable.

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