Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Artificial vs Natural Christmas Tree

Posted by Igor Shishlov
Type: 
Full LCA available on the web
Comparative: 
yes
Publication year: 
2009
Language: 
English
Code: 
Adhesives
Product: 
Christmas Tree
Quality and sources
Is the study a: 
Detailed LCA
Is the study compliant with ISO 14044?: 
Yes
Sponsor name(s): 
ellipsos
Sponsor type: 
Company
Practitioner(s): 
Sylvain Couillard, ing. M.Sc
Practitioner(s): 
Gontran Bage, ing. Ph.D
Practitioner(s): 
Jean-Sébastien Trudel, B.Com B.Sc.Soc. M.En
Practitioner(s) type: 
Consultant
Summary
Goal and scope of the summary: 
The purpose of this study is to compare the environmental impacts of a natural vs. artificial Christmas tree using Life Cycle Assessment methodology. Since the trees are to be used in Montreal, Canada, for the holiday season, data representative of the trees sold in Montreal was preferred. The modelled natural tree is harvested in a plantation located 150 km south of Montreal. The artificial tree is manufactured in China and shipped by boat and train to Montreal via Vancouver.
A Life Cycle Assessment was performed to guide the environmentally conscious 
consumers on their choice of Christmas tree. The natural tree is a better option 
than the artificial tree, in particular with respect to impacts on climate change 
and resource depletion. The natural tree, however, is not a perfect solution as it 
results in important impacts on ecosystem quality. Clients who prefer using the 
artificial tree can reduce their impacts on all categories by increasing the life span 
of their tree, ideally over 20 years.

Although the dilemma between the natural and artificial Christmas trees will 
continue to surface every year before Christmas, it is now clear from this LCA 
study that, regardless of the chosen type of tree, the impacts on the environment 
are negligible compared to other activities, such as car use.

Material impact(s): 
Global warming
Abiotic ressources depletion
Raw material impact level: 
Medium
Manufacturing impact(s): 
Waste generation
Global warming
Manufacturing impact level: 
Medium
Shipping impact(s): 
Global warming
Shipping impact level: 
High
End of life impact(s): 
Waste generation
End of life impact level: 
Medium
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