A stepwise approach for Scenario-based Inventory Modelling for Prospective LCA (SIMPL)
Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift, 2023

Purpose: In prospective life cycle assessment (pLCA), inventory models represent a future state of a production system and therefore contain assumptions about future developments. Scientific quality should be ensured by using foresight methods for handling these future assumptions during inventory modelling. We present a stepwise approach for integrating future scenario development into inventory modelling for pLCA studies. Methods: A transdisciplinary research method was used to develop the SIMPL approach for scenario-based inventory modelling for pLCA. Our interdisciplinary team of LCA and future scenario experts developed a first draft of the approach. Afterwards, 112 LCA practitioners tested the approach on prospective case studies in group work projects in three courses on pLCA. Lessons learned from application difficulties, misunderstandings and feedback were used to adapt the approach after each course. After the third course, reflection, discussion and in-depth application to case studies were used to solve the remaining problems of the approach. Ongoing courses and this article are intended to bring the approach into a broader application. Results and discussion: The SIMPL approach comprises adaptations and additions to the LCA goal and scope phase necessary for prospective inventory modelling, particularly the prospective definition of scope items in reference to a time horizon. Moreover, three iterative steps for combined inventory modelling and scenario development are incorporated into the inventory phase. Step A covers the identification of relevant inventory parameters and key factors, as well as their interrelations. In step B, future assumptions are made, by either adopting them from existing scenarios or deriving them from the available information, in particular by integrating expert and stakeholder knowledge. Step C addresses the combination of assumptions into consistent scenarios using cross-consistency assessment and distinctness-based selection. Several iterations of steps A–C deliver the final inventory models. Conclusion: The presented approach enables pLCA practitioners to systematically integrate future scenario development into inventory modelling. It helps organize possible future developments of a technology, product or service system, also with regard to future developments in the social, economic and technical environment of the technology. Its application helps to overcome implicit bias and ensures that the resulting assessments are consistent, transparently documented and useful for drawing practically relevant conclusions. The approach is also readily applicable by LCA practitioners and covers all steps of prospective inventory modelling.

Future scenario approach


Future scenarios

Inventory modelling

Prospective life cycle assessment



Sabine Langkau

Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung ISI

Bernhard Steubing

Universiteit Leiden

Christopher L Mutel

Paul Scherrer Institut

Maulana Permana Ajie

Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung ISI

Lorenz Erdmann

Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung ISI

Ariane Voglhuber-Slavinsky

Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung ISI

Mathias Janssen

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Environmental Systems Analysis

International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment

0948-3349 (ISSN) 1614-7502 (eISSN)

Vol. 28 9 1169-1193

Materials INnovative TEchnologies Assessment (MIN-TEA)

EIT RawMaterials (18231), 2019-01-01 -- 2021-12-31.


Annan maskinteknik

Transportteknik och logistik



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