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The objective of life cycle assessments (LCA) is to analyze the environmental performance of products and, for OSRAM, to compare different lamp types regarding their total environmental impact throughout the entire life cycle. For this, the primary energy consumption of each product is calculated as the most important indicator. Furthermore, the impact on the environment is evaluated in specific categories.
The method for life cycle assessments is based on the international standards ISO 14040 and 14044. The standard ISO 14040 describes the principles and framework for the life cycle assessment whereas the standard ISO 14044 specifies requirements and provides guidelines for the individual phases of the LCA.
The relevant data for the life cycle analyses was either collected or taken from existing studies combined with OSRAM data sheets. Furthermore, process and raw materials data was extracted from the databases “GaBi” and “Umberto” whenever possible. These are databases specifically used for life cycle analyses.
The life cycle stages
A product life cycle consists of five different stages as depicted in the figure above. The results of an LCA allow for conclusions not only on the primary energy input but also on environmental impacts such as the greenhouse effect, acidification, eutrophication, photochemical ozone depletion, human toxicity and resource consumption. The aim of analyzing the life cycle stages individually is to find out what impacts the lamps have during each stage, and how these rank in comparison to each other.
The data of this life-cycle stage usually involves the extraction of natural resources, transport to the processing sites and refining to usable materials. All materials are carefully chosen to fulfil technical requirements in order to optimize both, production processes and the finished product.
As already outlined above, the use phase is responsible for more than 98 percent of the energy consumption and thus has the greatest environmental impact. With less than 2 percent, all other stages have a comparatively minor impact. Hence, on the following pages these are summarized under 'manufacturing'.
The primary energy demand
Primary energy is the energy embodied in natural resources like coal, oil or sunlight that has not yet undergone any anthropogenic transformation. The primary energy demand, also Cumulated Energy Demand (CED), summarizes the energy needed for the different stages of the life cycle. The use of primary energy can be measured in megajoule (MJ) or kilowatthours (kWh). Due to conversion and transmission losses, approximately 3.3 kWh or 11.84 MJ of primary energy are needed to produce 1 kWh of electricity, concerning the European average electricity mix.
The environmental impact categories
In order to assess the environmental influence of OSRAM products, several environmental impact categories, addressing impacts on air, soil and resources, may be chosen for life cycle analyses.