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Product Biodiversity Footprint – A novel approach to compare the impact of products on biodiversity combining Life Cycle Assessment and Ecology

Asselin, Anne, Rabaud, Suzanne, Catalan, Caroline, Leveque, Benjamin, L’Haridon, Jacques, Martz, Patricia, Neveux, Guillaume
Journal of cleaner production 2020 v.248 pp. 119262
biocompatible materials, biodiversity, case studies, climate change, concrete, decision making, design for environment, ecosystems, environmental impact, invasive species, life cycle assessment, pollution, supply chain
Product impacts on ecosystem quality have long been addressed by the topdown approach known as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Impacts are most of the time assessed within the “biodiversity loss” damage category indicator. However, LCA methods do not cover the 5 drivers of biodiversity loss as identified by (Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005) (MEA): only land occupation and transformation, pollution, and climate change are covered, while species overexploitation and invasive species are not. Besides, ecologists work on the ground to measure concrete impacts from given practices on biodiversity in specific areas for some parts of the value chain of the product (e.g. production of agricultural biomaterial).The Product Biodiversity Footprint (PBF) approach aims at bridging the gap between LCA and ecology. Its objective is to allow comparison of variants of a given product to support eco-design, addressing the five drivers of MEA. The methodology combines LCA and ecology current knowledge and organizes them towards practical indicators and representations for business decision.PBF has been tested in three business case studies. The one for L’Oréal presented herewith shows that the integration of ecological data enables to refine and complement LCA results. This method at product level is, to our knowledge, the first to address the five MEA drivers on biodiversity along the value chain, with a combination of quantitative and semi-quantitative indicators. Stemming from an LCA global framework and approach, ecology knowledge adds refinements that enable to distinguish between different anthropogenic practices and better informed decision making.