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Environmental and social life cycle assessment of bamboo bicycle frames made in Ghana

Agyekum, Eric Ofori, Fortuin, K.P.J. (Karen), van der Harst, Eugenie
Journal of cleaner production 2017 v.143 pp. 1069-1080
aluminum, bamboos, borax, business enterprises, case studies, community development, culms, developing countries, ecotoxicology, environmental impact, freshwater, life cycle assessment, prices, social impact, socioeconomics, steel, Ghana
This case study assessed the environmental and social impact of bicycle frames made from wild Ghanaian bamboo. The environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) of the bamboo frame was compared to the LCA results of an aluminium frame and a steel frame. The results show that the overall environmental impact of the bamboo bicycle frame is about 50% less than aluminium and about 30% less than steel bicycle frames in all impact categories, except Freshwater Aquatic Ecotoxicity and Terrestrial Ecotoxicity. Impacts in these two categories were contributed by the use and disposal of Dursban which was used to preserve bamboo culms. Performance in these impact categories could be improved by preserving bamboo with Borax. For the social life cycle assessment (S-LCA), this case study used a simplified approach to social impact assessment at the subcategory level. The results show that the Ghanaian bamboo bicycle companies performed well and made no negative socio-economic impacts in most subcategories. Even so, companies could have made the bamboo resource owners aware of the value of bamboo so that they could negotiate a good price to contribute to the development of the communities. The extraction of bamboo might be a hot spot. Unlike environmental LCA, S-LCA is new and its methodology is not standardised. This study identified challenges that emerge in applying S-LCA in small and medium scale enterprises in the developing countries where data can be limiting. The simplified approach used in this study can be adopted to assess other products.