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How to use SimaPro 7 for Product Environmental Sustainability (PES)



How to use SimaPro 7 for Product Environmental Sustainability (PES)




SimaPro 7 is a powerful software tool for life cycle assessment (LCA), which can help you measure and improve the environmental sustainability of your products. LCA is a method that quantifies the environmental impacts of a product throughout its life cycle, from raw material extraction to end-of-life disposal. LCA can help you identify hotspots, compare alternatives, and communicate your results to stakeholders.


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One of the applications of LCA is product environmental sustainability (PES), which is a holistic approach that considers not only the environmental impacts of a product, but also its social and economic aspects. PES can help you align your product design and development with the principles of circular economy, eco-design, and corporate social responsibility.


In this article, we will show you how to use SimaPro 7 for PES, by following these steps:


  • Define the goal and scope of your PES study



  • Collect and enter data on your product system



  • Select and apply impact assessment methods



  • Analyze and interpret your results



  • Report and communicate your findings



1. Define the goal and scope of your PES study




The first step of any LCA or PES study is to define the goal and scope, which specify the purpose, boundaries, assumptions, and limitations of your study. The goal and scope should be clear, consistent, and relevant for your intended audience and application.


In SimaPro 7, you can define the goal and scope of your PES study by creating a new project and filling in the project properties. You can also create sub-projects within your main project to compare different scenarios or alternatives. Some of the key elements to define in your goal and scope are:


  • The functional unit, which is a measure of the function or performance of your product system. For example, if you are assessing a washing machine, the functional unit could be "one wash cycle". The functional unit ensures that you compare products on an equal basis.



  • The system boundaries, which determine which processes and activities are included or excluded from your product system. For example, you may decide to include or exclude transportation, packaging, or maintenance. The system boundaries should be consistent with your goal and reflect the most relevant environmental aspects of your product.



  • The data quality requirements, which specify the criteria for selecting and evaluating data sources for your product system. For example, you may consider the age, geographical representativeness, completeness, reliability, and uncertainty of data. The data quality requirements should ensure that your data are accurate, consistent, and transparent.



  • The impact assessment methods, which are models that translate the inventory data into environmental impact indicators. For example, you may use methods that measure global warming potential (GWP), acidification potential (AP), or water scarcity potential (WSP). The impact assessment methods should be relevant for your goal and reflect the most important environmental issues related to your product.



2. Collect and enter data on your product system




The second step of any LCA or PES study is to collect and enter data on your product system, which describe the inputs and outputs of materials, energy, and emissions for each process or activity within your system boundaries. The data should be consistent with your functional unit, data quality requirements, and impact assessment methods.


In SimaPro 7, you can collect and enter data on your product system by creating processes and linking them together in a network. You can also use existing processes from various databases that are included in SimaPro 7, such as ecoinvent v3 or Agri-footprint[^1^]. Some of the key elements to consider when collecting and entering data are:


  • The allocation rules, which determine how to assign inputs and outputs to different products or functions when a process has more than one output or function. For example, if you are assessing a biogas plant that produces both biogas and digestate, you may allocate inputs and outputs based on mass, energy content, or economic value. The allocation rules should be consistent with your goal and reflect the physical or causal relationships between inputs and outputs.



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