MO.1.D || Land Use and Biodiversity in Life Cycle Management

Quandt, Julian; Lindner, Jan Paul; Schüler, Maximilian

Biodiversity loss has been recognized as one of the major global challenges of current and future society. One of the main direct drivers of biodiversity loss has been found to be land-using processes. Life cycle assessment (LCA) has established itself as standardized tool for measuring the environmental impact of products and processes. However, there is no clear consensus on the integration of land-use related impacts on biodiversity in existing LCA-frameworks due to a lack of methodological guidance, suitable datasets and experience in real-world applications. Closing these gaps could enable political institutions and commercial enterprises to determine the effects of their products on biological diversity over the entire life cycle. In this study an innovative method, aiming to integrate the biodiversity impact in LCA, was successfully applied on a product with a complex supply chain. A suitable dataset of the material composition of a modern electric vehicle adapted to match the specifications of the Volkswagen ID.3 was developed. To estimate land use requirements for the procurement of the five most important metals a GIS-based approach was elaborated. An area of more than 16,000 km2 was inspected by means of satellite imagery enhanced by the analysis of industrial reports. 164 mines covering an area of 4,123 km2 in eight different countries were selected to assess the land use impacts associated with metal mining. Five unit processes for steel, copper, aluminum, cobalt and lithium were developed and applied on the VW ID.3 model. The results show that cobalt, lithium and copper account for the major biodiversity impact among the assessed metals. A scenario analysis reveals a biodiversity impact reduction potential of at least 23%. To the best knowledge of the authors, this study presents the first biodiversity impact assessment of a modern vehicle. Thus, it supplements existing indicators in a meaningful way and makes them them usable for future LCA studies.