Life Cycle Assessment of a telecommunications exchange
Journal article, 2000
This paper describes a comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) of a new Business Communication 10 (BC10) and an old Business Communication 8 (BC8) model of the private branch exchange Modular Digital 110 (MD 110), designed and sold by Ericsson Enterprise AB (EE) and produced by Flextronics, in this case for the European Union (EU) market. LCA is a technique for assessing the environmental aspects and potential impact associated with a products whole life cycle from the cradle to the grave. The study meets the requirements of the standards International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 14040:1997 English (E), ISO 14041:1998 E and the draft standards ISO/Draft International Standard (DIS) 14042 and ISO/DIS 14043 and was critically reviewed by Henrik Wenzel, Instituttet for ProduktUdvikling (The Institute for Product Development, IPU) in Denmark. The modelling of the system includes manufacturing (hardware and EEs organisation), use stage (electricity consumption), end-of-life (recycling processes) and transports. Electronic devices are modelled in depth (16 groups of components) and data from over 40 suppliers have been collected. EEs organisation (development, marketing & sales, supply, installation, service and maintenance) is modelled for use of offices and business travelling. The following main conclusions of the project are based on results for potential contributions to the environmental impact categories acidification, global warming and eutrophication, which were chosen to be the most relevant. The environmental impact improvements of the new model compared to the old are approximately 10%, and the uncertainty of the results is judged to be smaller than the difference between the systems.
The use stage and the manufacturing stage give the largest impacts, both for the new and the old model. In the manufacturing stage, the hardware production clearly dominates. EEs organisation is secondly most important and hardware transport is least important. This is due to more environmental load from service and business travelling in the organisation than environmental load arising from the distribution of the product. The results predominantly reflect energy use, whereas toxicological aspects could not be reliably assessed due to lack of data and reliable methods and needs separate attention. The technology improvements shown for BC10 compared to BC8 only describe design improvements made by EE, and do not take into account potential technology production improvements made by component suppliers.