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How to: Select methods and databases in LCA

Learn how to select methods and databases in LCA.

Artjom Janssen avatar
Written by Artjom Janssen
Updated over a week ago

Selecting an LCI database and LCIA method is one of the crucial decisions taken at the start of any LCA project. Are you unsure about what to select to meet your needs? Quick teaser: The decision is largely dependent on the product's sector and target region. In this article, we provide guidelines on what questions we must answer when making this decision.

Why is it important to select a suitable database and method?

The selection of these elements will have a direct effect on the results of your LCA model. Normally your findings will not change drastically from one database/method to the other, but when sharing your results with an external actor there may be some rules that will determine which database and method you must be adhering to.

Of course, when you are using the results internally, these rules do not apply. However, the moment you are publishing or sharing information, it is important to know if your specific sector or region where you sell your product happens to have a defined LCA standard or Product Category Rule (PCR).

The infographic below provides an overview of the hierarchy behind LCA standards, PCRs, databases, and methods:

How to choose your LCA standard, method & database_Ecochain

What are LCI databases and LCIA methods?

An LCI database is a compilation of average human activities, which contains the required resources and associated emissions for its fulfillment. These human activities represent a wide variety of industrial processes, agricultural activities, provision of services, and treatment of waste. LCI databases are an essential part of LCAs since they provide support and guidance on the information that is not available to LCA practitioners. Examples of LCI databases are Ecoinvent, Gabi, Plastics Europe, WEEE, PEF database, and NMD database.

An LCIA method provides guidelines on how to interpret the resource consumption and emissions associated with the product under study. These methods define how every resource used and emission influences the different systems in our planet. Each method covers a variety of impacts, focusing on issues such as Climate Change, Human Health, Water depletion, Resource depletion, Ecotoxicity, and Land use, among others.

Which database and method to choose?

This infographic below helps you decide what suits your specific case. *Please take into account that we are providing some recommendations based on our experience, but this does not mean that there are no exceptions to these rules.

* Product's target region: refers to the region where products are sold

If you have questions regarding database and method selection or you have feedback on our recommendations, please contact.

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