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Background information on the IdematLightLCA app


The IdematLightLCA app has been developed as an extension of the Idemat app for sustainable materials selection: it has the same functions, however, you can additionally make simple LCA calculations on your smartphone.
For the use of the basic Material Selection function, as well as the email export to make a full Fast Track calculation in Excel, see instruction video 1 . For the use of the LCA function (IdematLightLCA app) see instruction video 2 (after video 1).

Since a smartphone is too small to accomodate complex LCA calculations, the software of the IdematLightLCA app was designed to keep the calculation relative simple, and at the same time cover the majority of the cases of product and system innovation in the early stages of the design.

The required simplicity of 'LightLCA' is enabled by the following constraints:
1. the single indicator is selected prior to the calculation (midpoint data can only be found in the original Idematapp tables via the export function)
2. the result is given for 3 end-of-life scenarios (100% landfill, 100% waste treatment, 100% C2C circular economy); linear interpolation between the 3 scenarios is possible, but complex end-of-life scenarios are not accomodated
3. systems with so-called co- or by-products are not accomodated
4. calculations on emissions of the so-called 'foreground processes' are restricted to CO2e, SO2e, PO4e, C2H4e and fine dust (PM2.5); the use of the UseTox tables as provided at this website is not accomodated

Since the data tables are based on the Idematapp tables of this website, calculated via Simapro (with rigorous LCA), there is no compromise in accuracy as such, provided that the user has applied correct and adequate system boundaries to define the LCA input. Users who have Simapro, can have full transparency of the calculations when they import the eco-costs library file and the Idematapp library file (both. csv)
Note. Incorrect system modelling is the most common cause in practice of erroneous LCA results. The fact that an LCA can be made in minutes does not exempt the user from the fact that the product system and its boundaries must carefully be defined, so that no imputs are forgotten (and double counting is avoided). Reading the "Practical guide to LCA, for students, designers and business managers", see at the bottom of this page, is highly recommended for users of the IdematLight LCA app.This book is easy to read and provides practical guidance on LCA (the Fast Track Method).

The data on fuels are provided in two ways: 'combustion excluded' and 'combustion included'. The lines with combustion included can only be applied to Euro 5 cars (and trucks). The lines with combustion excluded must always be completed with the lines for emissions (kg CO2e, kg SO2e, kg PO4e, kg C2H4e and kg fine dust PM2.5). In this way the specific emissions of a specific vehicle or vessel can be taken into account.
Note. Desel, gasoline and LPG have 3.2 kg CO2 emission per 1 kg fuel. For Euro 6 passenger cars the maximum emissions are:
- for gasoline 1 g/km CO (= 0.027 g/km C2H4e) and 0.06 g/km NOx (= 0.03 g/km SO2e), and 0.005 PM/km
- for diesel 0.5 g/km CO and 0.08 g/km NOx for diesel, and 0.005 PM/km.

The end-of-life (EoL) in IdematLightLCA is limited to 3 predefined sets of scenarios:

A. 100% Landfill (the standard end-of-life in coutries outside Europe).
This scenario assumes that the product will end up in landfill (a heap of garbage) after it usefull life.
The EoL eco-costs of landfill for metals and plastics is 0.118 euro per kg plus 40 km transport, i.e. 0.119 euro per kg in total . For wood and bio-degradable plastics, landfill is set to zero, since it is assumed that the product will vanish within 100 years, and since emissions of biogenic CO2 is not couted in LCA (it is a closed loop in nature).
The EoL carbon footprint of landfill for metals and plastics is zero (since there are no CO2e emissions) plus 0.003 kg CO2e per kg for 40 km transport. This small number is not significant in a total life cycle, so it is neglected.

B. 100% Municipal Wate Treatment (the standard end-of-life in Western Europe).
In this scenario waste is seperated with recycling of metals and incineration with heat recovery of plastics, textile and wood products.
The EoL eco-costs of metals are zero, since it is open loop recycling, and the benefit of recycling is taken as part of the "market mix" calculation of metals. Note hat this implies that you must take the "market mix" as input for your products.
The EoL eco-costs of bio-based plastics are deterimed by the EoL credit of municipal waste incineration with heat recovery from the Idematapp database. Note that the bigenic CO2 is not counted in LCA, so biobased products have a high credit
The EoL eco-costs of oil-based plastics are deterimed by the EoL debit of municipal waste incineration with heat recovery from the Idematapp database. Note that the oil-based CO2 emission is the main reason for the debit.
For the EoL carbon footprint, the same rules apply as for the eco-costs.

C. 100% closed loop recycling for the circular economy, C2C (for future circular business models).
This scenario assumes that used product is taken back by the manufacturer, disassembled, and "upcycled" into new materials (metals and plastics), or burned (wood) in electricity power plants with high efficiency.
The EoL eco-costs of metals and plastics is a credit for upcycling (i.e.a credit for avoiding virgin materials). This credit is the diffenrece between the eco-costs of virgin materials and the eco-costs of recycled materials. When an input material is a "market mix", only the virgin part is counted, and when an input material is recycled, the credit is zero (to avoid double counting).
For some metals the LCA of recycling is not known in the Idematapp database (e.g. for rare earth). In such a case the EoL eco-costs in IdematLingtLCA is the credit for the avoided eco-costs of metal depletion only, which can be considered as a safe side approximation. The credit in carbon footprint is not known in such a case.
For wood the credit is taken for combustion in an efficient small scale electrical power plant (designed for wood waste).
Note. For some bio-based plastics the recycling credit is negative (it is a debit), since the recycling energy is more thatn the energy needed for virgin production (this might change with new technologies in the future).

Furtehr understanding about Fast Track Calculations:

It is also possible to calculate the eco-costs of EPDs of products (and services). See this site

Read this book to learn more about Fast track LCA.