EU Science Hub

Including Resource Security of Supply in LCA: a proposal

Abstract: 
Competition for the access to material resources has intensified since supplier countries like China have become themselves key consumers and started to retain part of the production while restricting exports. The security of supply of raw materials has become a high-priority theme in the political agenda of the EU, which is highly dependent on some imports. This led to the identification of Critical Raw Materials based on their supply risk and economic importance (EC - European Commission, 2010). Resource security has also many implications for supply chain sustainability (Mancini, De Camillis, & Pennington, 2013) and some attempts have been made to include the concept of resource security in typical Life Cycle Assessments (e.g. Schneider et al., 2014). However, the debate on how the area of protection “natural resources” should be defined – and to what extent socio-economic issues are to be included in LCAs – is ongoing. In this contribution, we will illustrate how a resource security indicator based on the same criteria used in the EU assessment for CRMs could be adopted in LCA. Supply risk derived from poor governance and from low environmental performance of producing countries, being the main concepts behind the EU methodology, are taken into account. Results from a case study will be presented, illustrating the main strengths and limitations of the methodology.