The Integrated Product Policy (COM (2003)302) identified Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as the “best framework for assessing the potential environmental impacts of products”. It highlighted the necessity for a Platform on LCA to increase the availability of quality-assured life-cycle data. The JRC responded to these needs by establishing the European Platform on Life Cycle Assessment (EPLCA) , through which it has facilitated the development of the European reference Life Cycle Database (ELCD) , the International reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook , and the Life Cycle Data Network (LCDN) . The purpose of the Platform is to improve the credibility, acceptance and practice of LCA by business and public authorities. It has been set up to ensure greater coherence across LCA instruments and to provide robust decision support.
Since its first release in 2006, the ELCD comprises Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data from front-running EU-level business associations and other sources for key materials, energy carriers, transport, and waste management. The respective data sets are officially provided and approved by the named industry association.
The Life Cycle Data Network (LCDN) aims to provide a globally usable infrastructure for consistent and quality-assured LCA data (i.e. LCI and Life Cycle Impact Assessment – LCIA – datasets) from different organisations. It is a web-based infrastructure in order to ensure easy access to LCA data via searches, filtering, and sorting. The datasets in the web-based, non-centralised network come from any data developer/owner, e.g. industry, national LCA projects, research groups, and consultants. The data will be published by the developer/owner under its own conditions (e.g. for free, for a fee, via registration).
The ILCD handbook was developed by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) in cooperation with DG for the Environment. It is part of the Commission’s promotion of sustainable consumption and production patterns. The ILCD Handbook is in line with international standards and has been established through a series of extensive public and stakeholder consultations. The JRC has just released a Reference Report (JRC RR) as an umbrella document for the guidance documents of the ILCD Handbook. This report provides overview information about the components of the ILCD Handbook and their interrelationship, as well as links to supporting documents and tools. For policy developers, contracting officers and scientific officers it provides guidance on how to use to the ILCD Handbook and its related components in policy and business contexts, such as in drafting policies, and for putting together service and research contracts.
The ILCD Handbook consists of a set of documents that are in line with the international standards on LCA (ISO 14040/44):
- The General guide for Life Cycle Assessment consists of both a comprehensive, detailed guide as well as a “cook-book”-style guide for experienced LCA practitioners. It covers all aspects of conducting an LCA.
- The Specific guide for Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data sets builds on the general guide. It provides more detail for the generation of specific types of data.
- The Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) guides provide requirements for assessing the emissions and resource consumption associated with a product in terms of impacts on the environment, human health, and resources depletion. It outlines the criteria against which models and indicators for use in LCIA should be evaluated, covering both scientific aspects and stakeholder acceptability. The guides consist of:
- Analysis of existing Environmental Impact Assessment methodologies for use in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
- Framework and requirements for Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) models and indicators
- Recommendations for Life Cycle Impact Assessment in the European context describes the indicators and models recommended for Life Cycle Impact Assessment.
- Updated LCIA Characterisation Factors: The recommendation of LCIA models is complemented with associated characterization factors (CFs) also in ILCD format. A technical note supports the correct use of the CFs and points out some known limitations. The complete dataset, could be download here .
- The guide on Review schemes for Life Cycle Assessment presents the minimum requirements for review for life cycle data or assessments for different applications.
- The guide on Reviewer qualification specifies the requirements on the experiences and expertise of reviewers.