Methods 3: Land Use/Biodiversity

LOCATION: 2311
13:30 Jacqueline Ebner and Thomas Trabold

Climate change impacts of Retail food waste treatment options based upon substrate characteristics

ABSTRACT. Recently several Northeastern states (i.e. Massachusetts, Connecticut,Vermont) and cities such as NYC, Seattle, San Francisco and Portland have instituted legislation to ban landfilling of commercial food waste. These bans often target supermarkets, which according to an NRDC report generate approximately 46B pounds of food waste annually in the U.S. [1]. These retail institutions often have work processes and personnel, which can enable source separation of their waste streams. Furthermore, they are often faced with more options to treat the waste streams, than those for municipal solid waste (MSW). One criterion important to the choice of waste treatment alternative is the associated climate change impact. Several studies have analyzed the climate change impact of waste treatment alternatives and have concluded that an important factor to consider is the composition of the waste.[2][3] While most studies have been based on municipal solid waste (MSW) a few have considered broad constituents of the waste stream such as food scraps. However, we are not aware of any work that has considered sub categories of food waste, such as bakery waste, produce or canned goods. This study uses empirical data on the characteristics of several categories of source separated retail food waste to develops a model for the greenhouse gas impacts associated with a variety of disposal pathways based upon these characteristics. The results of the model can inform retail food waste generators on the lowest impact treatment pathway for a given waste stream. It can also provide insight into the characteristics most significant to the climate change impact of a given disposal pathway. Finally, the model can be incorporated into multi-criteria models to inform waste treatment and policy decisions.

[1] Gunders, Dana. “Wasted: How America is losing up to 40 percent of its food from farm to fork to landfill.” Natural Resources Defense Council Issue Paper. August. This report was made possible through the generous support of The California Endowment (2012). [2] Bernstad, Anna, and Jes la Cour Jansen. “Review of comparative LCAs of food waste management systems–Current status and potential improvements.”Waste management 32.12 (2012): 2439-2455.

13:45 Caroline Gaudreault and T. Bently Wigley

Forest Management and Land Use Impacts in LCA: Challenges and Considerations

ABSTRACT. Forests provide many important functions, goods, and services such as support for biological diversity, clean water, carbon storage, recreational opportunities, and the raw materials required to manufacture products that society needs and demands. Land uses, however, including the management that provides products and services from forests, have long been accompanied by dialogue about sustainability. Recently, that dialogue has expanded to include discussion about the environmental aspects of all stages in the production of goods and services and life cycle assessment (LCA) has emerged as a tool for organizing and considering relevant scientific information. One guiding principle in LCA is that all relevant environmental aspects to a product should be considered. As a result, there is growing recognition of the need to integrate consideration for land use impacts such as those related to forestry into LCA. Few LCAs have addressed the environmental aspects of land use, and there is ongoing debate about approaches for doing so. This presentation will discuss proposals for evaluating land use impacts in LCA, including the general framework proposed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) as well as different proposals for biodiversity and ecosystem services impact indicators for use in LCA in the context of forest management. Challenges will be highlighted. It will be shown that LCA is not currently suited to providing the reliable site-specific assessment results concerning the complexities of biodiversity and ecosystem services associated with land use, more specifically forest management, largely because of the complexities of biodiversity and the global and comprehensive nature of LCA. For instance, many proposed approaches rely on a single biodiversity indicator. Biodiversity, however, is a multi-dimensional concept that can never be fully represented by a single number. Reliance on a single metric over-simplifies “biodiversity” and will undoubtedly lead to inappropriate conclusions in LCA, thereby failing to support decision-making related to local land management practices. That said, using several indicators to characterize biodiversity may lead to unfair comparisons in the context of other LCA single-indicator metrics such as climate change. It will be highlighted that there is nonetheless a need to integrate consideration for land use such as forestry within life cycle approaches, potentially through the use of complementary site-specific and/or territorial assessment approaches.

14:00 Jan Paul LindnerUlrike Bos and Roberta Graf

Biodiversity as a fuzzy impact category

ABSTRACT. Biodiversity as an impact assessment category has been on the LCA research agenda for a while. What makes it so difficult to grasp is the inherent fuzzyness of the safeguard subject. Definitions for biodiversity exist, but there are so many aspects to it that picking one (over all others) seems inappropriate for appreciating biodiversity as a whole.

We propose a composite indicator that embraces the fuzziness and aims at including all relevant aspects of biodiversity. It calculates the biodiversity value of a patch of land as is needed for the UNEP-SETAC framework on land use in LCA. While we did report on intermediate stages of the development at earlier occasions, we now have (1) a well-defined framework, as well as (2) a tangible case study on forestry in Scandinavia.

In the case of the Scandinavian taiga, biodiversity depends on eleven parameters that describe the age structure of a tree stand, its species diversity, the amount and diversity of deadwood, protected areas, and disturbances. The connection between these parameters and the biodiversity value of the land is made through a mathematical framework loosely based on fuzzy modeling and potential theory. A biodiversity contribution function is defined for each parameter. Biodiversity contributions from interacting parameters yield a joint biodiversity contribution based on operations taken from fuzzy set theory. Finally, the joint biodiversity contributions are linearly aggregated to form the so-called biodiversity potential of the patch of land. The framework is generic, so it can be applied to any ecoregion. It is filled with ecoregion-specific expert knowledge through a series of interviews.

So far, biodiversity is often assessed based on land cover classes and correlation with species diversity. Our approach is not limited to only one aspect of biodiversity but allows the inclusion of multiple aspects. Other approaches have difficulties reflecting details of land mangement. With our approach, we demonstrate how land management affecting biodiversity can be appreciated in LCA.

14:15 Vincent RossiSebastien Humbert and Jon Dettling

Capturing the benefits of responsible forestry practices in LCA: focus on biodiversity

ABSTRACT. Companies and communities are increasingly adopting responsible sourcing practices in their supply chain. However, the benefits of using responsibly sourced products are still difficult to quantitatively capture in the context of life cycle assessment (LCA) in particular with regards to their benefits for biodiversity or ecosystem services. Nestlé, a company aiming at adopting responsible sourcing practices throughout its supply chain, UPM, one of their suppliers and a global leader in sustainable forest management practices, along with Quantis, a company expert in LCA, have developed an approach to quantify the ecological benefits of responsible forest management practices using environmental indicators typically used in LCA, including impact on ecosphere/ecosystem quality (in PDF.m2.y), land use (in m2.y), and GHG emissions. The aim was to build a solid methodology that can capture, within an LCA context, the relevant differences between conventional and responsible forestry practices for several case studies, of which semi-natural forest in Finland is presented. The study is for one cubic meter of wood, at mill gate, and encompasses the inputs for forestry management, activities on the logging site, logistics until the mill gate and the differences in energy inputs and outputs for heat recovered from wood residues in the mill. The use of the wood fiber based product and its end-of-life are not considered (considered identical for all types of wood sourcing). Carbon uptake and all GHG emissions are considered. The method for biodiversity accounts for four indicators, native tree species composition, deadwood volume and quality, protected valuable habitats, and forest structure, that are grouped into one indicator between 0 and 1. The results show that responsible practices have consistently lower impacts than conventional practices for all indicators, in Finland. For example, when quantified in PDF.m2.y, the impacts on Ecosphere/Ecosystems Quality for responsible forestry practices are about half of those for conventional practices. This method can objectively capture the benefits of biodiversity protection in wood fiber production. Companies can use it in complex LCAs to consistently quantify impacts and benefits in supply chain. This method can be used to communicate externally about the benefits of biodiversity protection associated with responsible wood sourcing within an LCA context in a more robust way than what is done until now.