Discussion Forum on Life Cycle Assessment

Mission and Organisation 

LCA practitioners working in industry, consulting companies and administration and LCA scientists. Each LCA forum is dedicated to a specific topic of immediate interest related to

  • experiences and challenges with LCA application in industry and administration
  • scientific questions in life cycle inventory and life cycle impact assessment metholodogy development
  • dissemination of new scientific findings and results of relevant LCA studies

The LCA Discussion Forum is a platform for the exchange between Internationally reknown speakers are invited according to the topic to present their work. Each forum offers an "open floor" session for short presentations. The LCA forum is dedicated to people interested in the field of LCA, working in Switzerland and abroad. Its content is defined by an advisory board.

New Downloads
Current Meeting

DF 61 — How to assess impacts of land use on biodiversity and soil quality in LCA?

March 15, 2016, Zürich (Tuesday, in English).

Assessments of land use related impacts on ecosystem resources covering biodiversity and soil production potential are still a difficult issue in LCA. Major challenges are that biodiversity and soil degradation need to be assessed within a specific bio-geographic context and that land use intensities need to be considered. While the real dynamics and complexity of ecosystem processes above and below ground require complex and data demanding models, LCA practitioners call for simple and easy to use assessment routines that are, however, prone to oversimplification. Impacts of land use on biodiversity and soil quality as are a key issue for the food, feed, apparel, paper and bioenergy industries that are all based on agricultural and forestry-based products. Therefore, upcoming approaches like Natural Capital Valuation aim for a simplified assessment of overall ecosystem impacts.

Finding balanced solutions that adequately represent ecosystem complexity and that are still relatively easily applicable will be key to improve informed decision making on the sustainability of agricultural and forestry-based products. On the discussion forum, among others, recent results from the UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative will be presented on the assessment of biodiversity impacts of land use. The goal of this discussion forum is to present and discuss the state-of-the-art of methods for assessing land-use related impacts on ecosystems, the possibilities and limits of those approaches and the needs of the industry to integrate such methods. 


Future Meetings

Call for short presentations for DF 61-63:

You work on a topic relevant to one of the Discussion Fora in 2016 and wish to present your findings?

"Open floor" sessions for short presentations will be available in each forum. Please contact the LCA Discussion Forum secretariat – the sooner the better. 
For more information and to receive news on the LCA Discussion Forum, please contact: lcaforum (at) ethz.ch 

DF 62: LCA and decision making: when and how to use consequential LCA?

September 9, 2016, Zürich (Friday, in English)

What are the environmental implications of the European Union’s goal that 10 % of transport fuel should come from renewable sources by 2020? Is it sufficient to switch the energy supply of the existing building stock of a city to renewable energy to reach carbon footprint targets? Does an autarchy policy in the agricultural sector reduce the pressure on the environment (locally and/or globally)? Policies and decision situations like these call for advanced LCA models. Different concepts of Consequential LCA have been introduced for that purpose. This forum will provide the opportunity to learn about the moti-vation and reasoning of public and private deci¬sion makers who commissioned consequential LCAs. Results from consequential LCA case studies as well as from ongoing research in the field of conse¬quential LCA will be presented. Consequences on background data needs and potential consequences on life cycle impact assessment methods are discussed. There will be room for discussing key areas of application and related important methodological issues with the opportunity to draft a joint statement on areas of consensus and disagreement.

DF 63: How can LCA support the Circular Economy? 

November 30, 2016, Zürich (Wednesday, in English)

The concept of Circular Economy is gaining popularity in Europe and elsewhere. Both the recycling of waste and a (recycling friendly) eco-design are components of a Circular Economy. How can LCA support the creation of a Circular Economy and ensure a positive balance of efforts and benefits? How shall substituted materials and products be accounted for, who can claim the benefit, and how is resource quality taken into consideration? How can waste and resources be managed to minimize environmental impacts? How can products be designed in an eco-friendly manner to close material cycles? 

The 3rd forum will give the floor to representatives from industry, authorities, academics, and organisa-tions to present new applications and approaches of LCA in combination with various other environmental assessment tools (e.g. MFA, LCA and/or mathemati-cal optimization) to manage wastes and resources sustainably and to support decision-making towards a circular economy. A focus will be laid on factors relevant for the benefits of the circular economy, such as waste and resource quality aspects and their influence on the recycling system, as well as product quality. Finally, examples of LCA applications for eco-design, waste management and systemic analyses across sectors will be shown. 


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