READER'S CORNER / 2013

Methods for open-loop recycling allocation in life cycle assessment and carbon footprint studies of paper products

1 January 2013

TECHNICAL BULLETIN NO. 1003
DECEMBER 2012
ABSTRACT
In this document, the allocation methods for open-loop recycling most frequently used in pulp and
paper case studies or presented as options in the ISO standards on life cycle assessment (LCA) are
presented, illustrated, discussed and compared. It is shown that the choice of one allocation procedure
over another can have a significant effect on the results of an LCA. In particular, the ISO standards on
LCA require that sensitivity analyses be performed when several methods seem applicable. In part
because of this, LCA may not be useful for obtaining unambiguous conclusions if the objective of the
LCA is to compare virgin and recycled paper. When selecting an allocation method for recycling, the
following should be kept in mind: the method should be consistent with the objective of the study; the
set of values inherent to the selection of the method should be transparent; the selected method should
preserve mass and energy balances (with the exception of the closed-loop procedure); and a similar
allocation method should be applied to both the inflows and outflows of recovered material in the
system boundary.

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