WE.1.C || Methodological Approaches to Assess Life Cycle Consequences

Haun, Patrick; Müller, Philipp; Traverso, Marzia

The whole life cycle beginning from the raw material extraction and ending with the waste treatment has to be considered for a holistic product Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Especially for polymers, the End of Life (EoL) can have a significant impact if they are incinerated in incineration plants. However, the EoL of automotive polymers is widely unknown on a global scope. For this reason the EoL assessment is mainly performed in literature by using scenarios based on local conditions or assumptions. To tackle these uncertainties of EoL evaluation, a global scope EoL assessment for automotive polymers has to be evaluated. To elaborate meaningful scenarios for automotive polymer’s EoL, their current EoL situation had to be identified. Therefore, the EoL vehicle’s (ELV) sinks, the automotive polymer’s treatment and the resulting environmental impacts for the respective treatment were defined as the most crucial information to be evaluated. Based on car manufacturers’ information on sales markets and a literature research on the global used car streams, main EoL vehicle’s (ELV) sinks have been identified. The state-of-the-art automotive polymer’s waste treatment was developed for the given ELV’s sinks by literature research. With the information of the shares of automotive polymers’ waste treatment a LCA based on secondary data was carried out. In this LCA only the Global Warming Potential was considered. Because of a lack of information regarding all main questions to identify the EoL situation, many assumptions with great impact on the LCA results had to be made. This leads to high remaining uncertainties of the assessment. Nevertheless, influencing parameters on the LCA results were identified and evaluated. By comparing thermal waste treating processes and landfill options, contradictions between principles of circular economy and the objective to reduce the GWP of a product can be observed.