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The accompanying slides for each presentation can be downloaded from the programme at the bottom of this page.

DF 55: 55th LCA Discussion Forum

Abiotic resources – New impact assessment approaches in view of resource efficiency and resource criticality

Discussion forum on Life Cycle Assessment
Friday, April 11, 2014, ETH Zurich

Dear colleagues with an interest in Life Cycle Assessment,

We cordially invite you to the 55th Discussion Forum on Life Cycle Assessment.
The official language of this event is English.

Security of abiotic resources has become a growing political concern with increased focus at resource scarcity, natural availability and dependency on foreign supply. For a near-future time horizon, both the USA and the EU have identified so-called “critical raw materials” (including platinum group metals, rare earth elements, niobium, and tungsten), and resource efficiency has become one key element of the sustainability policy of the EU and Switzerland. For the long time horizon, new as well as updated approaches for abiotic resource impact assessment have recently been developed within the context of life cycle assessment. This development has been extremely diverse with no unifying practice on how to assess resource extraction from the natural environment.

The goal of this discussion forum is to present and discuss these approaches with respect to
- the relevance of resources as a separate safeguard subject in environmental assessments;
- their interpretation of environmental mechanism related to resource extraction;
- usability and application relevance of resource depletion assessment methods, criticality assessment and resource efficiency assessment respectively;
- elemental coverage and alignment with other types of resources (biogenic and renewable abiotic funds and flows), and;
- the future direction for assessment of resource extraction within the framework of life cycle assessment.

We look forward to meeting you!

Rolf Frischknecht (treeze Ltd.), Melanie Haupt (ETH Zürich), Jakob Rørbech (DTU) & Carl Vadenbo (ETH Zürich)
Organizing committee, 55th LCA Discussion Forum


Download:    DF55-Programme Abiotic Resources.pdf 

Time Title Speaker Affiliation
8:30  Registration, Coffee and Croissants    
9:00  Welcome and introduction Carl Vadenbo  ETH Zurich (Switzerland) 
  Indicators and method development Chair: Carl Vadenbo   
9:05  Setting the scene: Overview of resource topics in LCA and MFA
DF55-01 Hellweg.pdf
Stefanie Hellweg  ETH Zurich (Switzerland) 
9:30  Ore grade decrease as life cycle impact indicator for metal scarcity
DF55-02 Ponsioen.pdf
Tommie Ponsioen   PRé Consultants (The Netherlands) 
10:00  Addressing natural resources as area of protection in sustainability assessment
DF55-03 Dewulf.pdf
Jo Dewulf   EC-JRC / Ghent University (Belgium) 
10:30  Coffee break    
  Indicators and method development (cont'd) Chair: Carl Vadenbo   
11:00  Abiotic resource availability in the context of sustainability – modelling environmental, economic and social constraints
DF55-04 Schneider.pdf
Laura Schneider  TU Berlin (Germany) 
11:30  Impact assessment of abiotic resources: the role of borrowing and dissipative resource use
DF55-05 Frischknecht.pdf
Rolf Frischknecht   treeze Ltd. (Switzerland) 
11:50  Comparison of resource depletion indicators: Quantitative differences and similarities
DF55-06 Rorbech.pdf
Jakob Rørbech   DTU (Denmark) 
12:20  Lunch break    
  Managing abiotic resources Chair: Melanie Haupt   
13:20  Assessing resource criticality of metals and its relationship to life cycle assessment
DF55-07 Nuss.pdf
Philip Nuss   Yale University (USA) 
13:50  Short presentations (SP)
DF55-08 Du.pdf
DF55-09 Laner.pdf
DF55-10 Drielsma.pdf
DF55-11 Althaus.pdf
Xiaoyue Du
David Laner
Johannes Drielsma
Hans-Jörg Althaus  
EMPA (Switzerland)
TU Vienna (Austria)
euromines (Belgium)
swisscleantech (Switzerland) 
14:40  Introduction to workshop topics and formation of groups Melanie Haupt  ETH Zurich (Switzerland) 
  Workshop Chair: Rolf Frischknecht   
14:45  Coffee break    
15:15  Discussion in groups, tentative topics:
Resource indicators: Practicality versus scientific rigour
What are the potential role(s) of exergy and other thermodynamic concepts for managing resource use? And how to combine it with other aspects such as scarcity and criticality?
Borrowing or dissipating resources, does it matter?
16:05  Summary of discussions from group leaders    
16:35  Wrap-up + announcements for next discussion forum    
16:40  Farewell    
16:45  End    
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