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Life cycle assessment as a tool for improving process performance: A case study on boron products

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This paper explores the use of LCA as a tool for process environmental management, thereby moving the focus from product to process oriented analysis. The emphasis is on Improvement Assessment in which the “hot spots” in the system are targeted for maximum environmental improvements. In this context, it is useful to use multiobjective optimisation which renders Valuation unnecessary.

The approach is illustrated by the case study of the system processing boron ores to make five different products. The results of Inventory Analysis and Impact Assessment are presented and discussed. In Improvement Assessment, a number of improvement options are identified and evaluated, using system optimisation. It is shown that the site environmental performance can be improved over current operation by an average of 20% over the whole life cycle. Thus the study demonstrates that the optimisation approach to environmental process management may assist in identifying optimal ways to operate a process or plant from “cradle to grave”. This may help the process industries not only to comply with legislation but also provide a framework for taking a more proactive approach to environmental management leading to more sustainable industrial operations and practices.

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Correspondence to Adisa Azapagic or Roland Clift.

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Azapagic, A., Clift, R. Life cycle assessment as a tool for improving process performance: A case study on boron products. Int. J. LCA 4, 133 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02979447

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  • Boron products
  • environmental impacts
  • environmental
  • system management
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • system optimisation