Effect of methodological choice on the estimated impacts of wool production and the significance for LCA-based rating systems

Article


Wiedemann, Stephen G., Simmons, Aaron, Watson, Kalinda J.L. and Biggs, Leo. 2018. "Effect of methodological choice on the estimated impacts of wool production and the significance for LCA-based rating systems." International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. 24 (5), pp. 848-855. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-018-1538-5
Article Title

Effect of methodological choice on the estimated impacts of wool production and the significance for LCA-based rating systems

ERA Journal ID41428
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsWiedemann, Stephen G. (Author), Simmons, Aaron (Author), Watson, Kalinda J.L. (Author) and Biggs, Leo (Author)
Journal TitleInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Journal Citation24 (5), pp. 848-855
Number of Pages8
Year2018
Place of PublicationGermany
ISSN0948-3349
1614-7502
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-018-1538-5
Web Address (URL)https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11367-018-1538-5
Abstract

Purpose: One aim of LCA-based rating tools developed by the apparel industry is to promote a change in demand for textiles by influencing consumer preferences based on the environmental footprint of textiles. Despite a growing consensus that footprints developed using attributional LCA (aLCA) are not suitable to inform decisions that will impact supply and demand, these tools continue to use aLCA. This paper analyses the application of the LCA methods to wool production, specifically the application of aLCA methods that provide a retrospective assessment of impacts and consequential (cLCA) methods that estimate the impacts of a change. Methods: Attributional and consequential life cycle inventories (LCIs) were developed and analysed to examine how the different methodological approaches affect the estimated environmental impacts of wool. Results and discussion: Life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) of aLCI and cLCI for wool indicates that estimated global warming and water stress impacts may be considerably lower for additional production of wool, as estimated by cLCIA, than for current production as estimated by aLCIA. However, fossil resource impacts for additional production may be greater than for current production when increased wool production was assumed to displace dedicated sheep meat production. Conclusions: This work supports the notion that the use of a retrospective assessment method (i.e. aLCA) to produce information that will guide consumer preferences may not adequately represent the impacts of a consumer’s choice because the difference between aLCIA and cLCIA results may be relatively large. As such, rating tools based on attributional LCA are unlikely to be an adequate indicator of the sustainability of textiles used in the apparel industry.

KeywordsApparel; Attributional life cycle assessment; cLCA; Consequential life cycle assessment; Fabric; Higg MSI aLCA; Life cycle assessment; Wool
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020300307. Environmental studies in animal production
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Byline AffiliationsIntegrity Ag and Environment, Australia
Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales
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