An inventory framework for inclusion of textile chemicals in life cycle assessment
Journal article, 2019
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.
Life cycle inventory