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An inventory framework for inclusion of textile chemicals in life cycle assessment

Roos, Sandra, Jönsson, Christina, Posner, Stefan, Arvidsson, Rickard, Svanström, Magdalena
The international journal of life cycle assessment 2019 v.24 no.5 pp. 838-847
air, data collection, databases, emissions, environmental impact, fabrics, inventories, life cycle impact assessment, life cycle inventory, manufacturing, models, recipes, screening, stakeholders, textile industry, toxicity
PURPOSE: Toxicity impacts of chemicals have only been covered to a minor extent in LCA studies of textile products. The two main reasons for this exclusion are (1) the lack of life cycle inventory (LCI) data on use and emissions of textile-related chemicals, and (2) the lack of life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) data for calculating impacts based on the LCI data. This paper addresses the first of these two. METHODS: In order to facilitate the LCI analysis for LCA practitioners, an inventory framework was developed. The framework builds on a nomenclature for textile-related chemicals which was used to build up a generic chemical product inventory for use in LCA of textiles. In the chemical product inventory, each chemical product and its content was modelled to fit the subsequent LCIA step. This means that the content and subsequent emission data are time-integrated, including both original content and, when relevant, transformation products as well as impurities. Another key feature of the framework is the modelling of modularised process performance in terms of emissions to air and water. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The inventory framework follows the traditional structure of LCI databases to allow for use together with existing LCI and LCIA data. It contains LCI data sets for common textile processes (unit processes), including use and emissions of textile-related chemicals. The data sets can be used for screening LCA studies and/or, due to their modular structure, also modified. Modified data sets can be modelled from recipes of input chemicals, where the chemical product inventory provides LCA-compatible content and emission data. The data sets and the chemical product inventory can also be used as data collection templates in more detailed LCA studies. CONCLUSIONS: A parallel development of a nomenclature for and acquisition of LCI data resulted in the creation of a modularised inventory framework. The framework advances the LCA method to provide results that can guide towards reduced environmental impact from textile production, including also the toxicity impacts from textile chemicals. RECOMMENDATIONS: The framework can be used for guiding stakeholders of the textile sector in macro-level decisions regarding the effectiveness of different impact reduction interventions, as well as for guiding on-site decisions in textile manufacturing.