Compilation of Life Cycle Assessments of Cultivated Brown Seaweed : A recalculation of Life Cycle Inventories

University essay from KTH/Hållbar utveckling, miljövetenskap och teknik

Abstract: Seaweed production systems are necessary to fill a product demand in multiple sectors whilst contributing to the bioeconomy. The multiple seaweed qualities drive the research for sustainable seaweed production worldwide. The main studies of seaweed production consist of life cycle assessments, where cradle-to-gate analyses have been calculated. However, these assessments have had incomparable results because of the various methods used. Therefore, this thesis utilized the life cycle inventories of six previously made life cycle assessments of brown seaweed and recalculated these concerning three key environmental impact categories – Global warming potential, Freshwater Eutrophication, and Marine Eutrophication. This was done by collecting and recalculating the six different inventories to the same functional unit and then assessing the environmental impacts of the recalculated inventories. The results showed that the life cycle impact assessments of brown seaweed production varied, yet the most impacts could be seen during the cultivation stage of the life cycle, mainly due to the plastics used within the system. The variations in the results are a consequence of the various data resources used, the design and location of the production systems, and the goal and scope of the reports. This thesis also demonstrated that a replication of life cycle assessments includes several obstacles, questioning the scientific method of LCA, for example, lack of transparency and deficiency in reporting methods and data. 

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