LCA as an element in environmental management systems—comparison of conditions in selected organizations in Poland, Sweden and Germany. Part 1: Background and initial assumptions
Journal article, 2013
In this two-part paper (Background and Initial Assumptions (part 1) and Results of Survey Research (part 2)), we present surveys whose main objective is to determine whether, and to what extent, the life cycle assessment (LCA) technique is used for the identification and assessment of environmental aspects in environmental management systems (EMS) and whether there are any differences in this respect between the companies and countries analysed.
The survey research was carried out using the computer assisted self-administered interviewing method among selected Polish, German and Swedish organisations which implement EMS in accordance with the requirements of ISO 14001 and/or the EMAS regulation.
The organisations investigated, regardless of their country, are dominated by qualitative and semi-quantitative techniques of assessment and identification of environmental aspects. LCA was used sporadically, although some differences can be observed between the countries analysed.
The environmental managers accustomed to traditional qualitative and semi-quantitative solutions have not been given preparation to enable them to understand and adopt different approaches such as LCA. On the other hand, representatives of the organisations investigated declared that they were ready to accept an even longer timescale for the identification and assessment processes relating to environmental aspects, which represents a potential opportunity for LCA. The more precise understanding and definition of environmental problems that are precisely defined in LCA would represent a novelty for environmental managers. In practice, environmental problems are defined in a general sense and rather ambiguously, as this level of detail is sufficient in the context of qualitative and semi-quantitative techniques commonly used for the identification and assessment of environmental aspects.
Life cycle assessment
environmental management systems