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Life-LCA: Impacts of a German Human Being in the Old Adulthood Stage

Bossek, David; Rudolph, Caroline; Bach, Vanessa; Finkbeiner, Matthias

Life-LCA studies, which assess the environmental impacts of human beings, focused so far on the span from conception to 50 years. This case study extends the analysis to an “old adulthood stage”, including a retirement (65–75 years) and end-of-life phase (75–80 years), thus complementing the assessment gap in the life cycle of a human being. The Life-LCA method is applied to a fictional study object representing an average German adult using mainly secondary data. Over both life phases, impacts result in 1.2 × 102 t CO2-eq for climate change, 9 × 10−⁵ CTUh for human toxicity cancer, 2 × 10−3 CTUh for human toxicity non-cancer, 1.35 × 10⁰ kg Sb-eq for abiotic depletion for elements, and 1.55 × 10⁰ TJ for fossil fuels. Across all impact categories, “transport” is a hotspot, contributing 41% to GWP, followed by “Energy and water” (39%) and “food” (20%). For abiotic depletion for elements, “Electronics” shows a share of 50%. The “retirement phase” causes a higher environmental impact than the “EoL phase” across all impact categories due to restricted mobility with higher age. A study with primary data collection is suggested to check the plausibility of the results.
Published in: Sustainability, 10.3390/su151411447, MDPI