Complementarities of Water-Focused Life Cycle Assessment and Water Footprint Assessment

31 October 2013

ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN "Environ. Sci. Technol." « Complementarities of Water-Focused Life Cycle Assessment and Water Footprint Assessment» By Anne-Marie Boulay, Arjen Y. Hoekstra, and Samuel Vionnet.  

The recent past has shown two parallel developments: the water resources community discovered the relevance of supply chain thinking for water resources management and freshwater allocation,(1) while the life cycle assessment (LCA) community recognized the importance of water use and included those related impacts in LCA studies.(2) The water footprint concept was introduced by Arjen Hoekstra as an indicator of freshwater appropriation, with the aim to quantify and map indirect water use and show the relevance of involving consumers and producers along supply chains in water resources management.(1) The Water Footprint Network (WFN) subsequently developed a methodology for water footprint assessment (WFA).(3) Simultaneously, the LCA community developed comprehensive methodologies (4) to include environmental impacts related to water in LCA studies and started to frame the main concepts in the forthcoming international standard on water footprint (ISO 14′046). In this text, WFA refers to the approach that emerged in the water resources management community, and LCAwater to the approach that emerged from the LCA community and that focuses only on the assessment of impacts related to water.