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Integrated method to assess resource efficiency – ESSENZ

Bach, Vanessa; Berger, Markus; Henßler, Martin; Kirchner, Martin; Leiser, Stefan; Mohr, Lisa; Rother, Elmar; Ruhland, Klaus; Schneider, Laura; Ladji, Tikana; Volkhausen, Wolfgang; Walachowicz, Frank; Finkbeiner, Matthias

With increasing demand of abiotic resources also the pollution of natural resources like water and soil has risen in the last decades due to global industrial and technological development. Thus, enhancing resource efficiency is a key goal of national and international strategies. For a comprehensive assessment of all related impacts of resource extraction and use all three sustainability dimensions have to be taken into account: economic, environmental and social aspects. Furthermore, to avoid burden shifting life cycle based methods should be applied. As companies need operational tools and approaches, a comprehensive method has been developed to measure resource efficiency of products, processes and services in the context of sustainable development (ESSENZ). Overall 21 categories are established to measure impacts on the environment, physical and socio-economic availability of the used resources as well as their societal acceptance. For the categories socio-economic availability and societal acceptance new approaches are developed and characterization factors are provided for a portfolio of 36 metals and four fossil raw materials. The introduced approach has been tested on several case studies, demonstrating that it enhances the applicability of resource efficiency to assess product systems significantly by providing an overall framework that can be adopted across sectors, using indicators and methods which are applicable and can be integrated into existing life cycle assessment based schemes.
Published in: Journal of cleaner production, 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.07.077, Elsevier