Challenges to using environmental product declarations in communicating life-cycle assessment results case of the asphalt industry

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Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


© 2017, SAGE Publications Ltd. All rights reserved. The objective of this paper is to discuss the challenges encountered in creating an environmental product declaration (EPD) program for asphalt mixtures that ensures the consistent, transparent, and reliable communication of life-cycle assessment (LCA) results between stakeholders in the paving industry. The formal process outlined in ISO 14025 for developing an EPD program has partially ameliorated the challenges that have deterred the adoption of LCA by requiring stake-holder participation and industrywide agreement on assumptions that define an LCA. This requirement has led to a new set of challenges, both technical and organizational, in addressing issues of data quality, validation, consistency, and transparency during the product category rules (PCR) development process. The paper provides an overview of the EPD program development process and establishes the role played by stakeholders in the decision-making process given their affiliations and relationship to the asphalt materials industry. Some of the LCA results that supported the decision-making process in developing the PCR are discussed. In addition, the paper highlights how the analysis supporting an EPD can also be used to improve plant operational efficiencies, while providing insights into the asphalt mixture design process, accounting for performance and environmental impacts.

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Transportation Research Record