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Use of benchmarking techniques to improve communication in life cycle assessment: A general review

Galindro, Bruno Menezes, Zanghelini, Guilherme Marcelo, Soares, SebastiĆ£o Roberto
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.213 pp. 143-157
databases, ecological footprint, life cycle assessment, peers, polymerase chain reaction, refining, statistical analysis
Communicating the results of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies is considered a challenge for researchers and practitioners, that state that one of the main issues refer to the lack of reference to position a product or service among its peers. The use of benchmarking emerges as a possible solution and is being encouraged by initiatives such as the Product Environmental Footprint. Therefore, this article aims to evaluate how benchmarking techniques have been applied in LCA. Specific keywords were investigated in relevant databases and resulted in 478 papers identified, which after refining, were reduced to 43. The techniques were classified in four categories: anchoring, creation of indicators, statistical analyses and Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA). Likewise, two perspectives were identified: a product-oriented, whenever the results are applied to one or more specific goods; and an organization-oriented, in which the data used for comparison refers to a whole production unit. DEA is mostly applied when productivity data is used, while statistical analysis were applied to establish performance classes and creation of indicators to meet specific demands. DEA is adequate for use in organizational-oriented benchmarking, but it is not possible to indicate a more appropriate technique for use in product-oriented studies. The combination of a dimensionality reduction of the LCAs, with an efficiency analysis using DEA and the establishment of performance classes can contribute to improve comparability and reporting of results. The development of LCA studies in line with Product Category Rules (PCRs), allows a greater use of DEA in product-oriented benchmarking.