Effect of methodological choice on the estimated impacts of wool production and the significance for LCA-based rating systems

Wiedemann, Stephen G. and Simmons, Aaron and Watson, Kalinda J.L. and Biggs, Leo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7674-2903 (2018) Effect of methodological choice on the estimated impacts of wool production and the significance for LCA-based rating systems. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 24 (5). pp. 848-855. ISSN 0948-3349


Purpose: One aim of LCA-based rating tools developed by the apparel industry is to promote a change in demand for textiles by influencing consumer preferences based on the environmental footprint of textiles. Despite a growing consensus that footprints developed using attributional LCA (aLCA) are not suitable to inform decisions that will impact supply and demand, these tools continue to use aLCA. This paper analyses the application of the LCA methods to wool production, specifically the application of aLCA methods that provide a retrospective assessment of impacts and consequential (cLCA) methods that estimate the impacts of a change. Methods: Attributional and consequential life cycle inventories (LCIs) were developed and analysed to examine how the different methodological approaches affect the estimated environmental impacts of wool. Results and discussion: Life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) of aLCI and cLCI for wool indicates that estimated global warming and water stress impacts may be considerably lower for additional production of wool, as estimated by cLCIA, than for current production as estimated by aLCIA. However, fossil resource impacts for additional production may be greater than for current production when increased wool production was assumed to displace dedicated sheep meat production. Conclusions: This work supports the notion that the use of a retrospective assessment method (i.e. aLCA) to produce information that will guide consumer preferences may not adequately represent the impacts of a consumer’s choice because the difference between aLCIA and cLCIA results may be relatively large. As such, rating tools based on attributional LCA are unlikely to be an adequate indicator of the sustainability of textiles used in the apparel industry.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2022 02:55
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2022 04:01
Uncontrolled Keywords: Apparel; Attributional life cycle assessment; cLCA; Consequential life cycle assessment; Fabric; Higg MSI aLCA; Life cycle assessment; Wool
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070105 Agricultural Systems Analysis and Modelling
Fields of Research (2020): 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3003 Animal production > 300307 Environmental studies in animal production
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 19 ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY, CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL HAZARDS > 1902 Environmental policy, legislation and standards > 190204 Environmental lifecycle assessment
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-018-1538-5
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/46879

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