A Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Two Book Options

Posted by Student Leipzig
File: 
Type: 
Full LCA available on the web
Comparative: 
yes
Publication year: 
2003
Language: 
English
Code: 
Paper Products/Inks
Product: 
traditional books/e-books
Quality and sources
Is the study a: 
Detailed LCA
Was a critical review performed?: 
Yes
Is the study compliant with ISO 14044?: 
Yes
Sponsor name(s): 
Center for sustainable systems
Sponsor type: 
University
Practitioner(s): 
Greg Kozak
Practitioner(s) type: 
University
Summary
Functional unit: 
printed scholary book (500 pages/7", 10")
Goal and scope of the summary: 
comparing environmental impact of traditional books and e-books

Baseline LCI Results
Overall, the conventional book system required more raw materials and water inputs,
consumed more energy, and produced more air and water emissions and solid wastes than
the e-reader system under baseline conditions. Major conclusions from the baseline LCI
are as follows:
• For the conventional book system, LCI results were largely driven by three
factors: (1) textbook paper production, (2) the relatively large amount of
electricity consumed during book printing operations, and (3) personal
transportation.
• For the e-reader system, LCI results were driven by the electricity generated
for on-screen viewing.

Baseline LCIA Results
Under baseline conditions, the conventional book system is far worse in terms of global
warming emissions, emitting almost four times the amount of GHGs (as kg of CO2
equivalents) than the e-reader system. Similarly, the conventional book system emitted
larger quantities of ozone depleting substances and chemicals associated with
acidification. Again, the conventional book system’s impacts were driven by textbook
paper production, electricity generation for book printing operations, and personal
transportation. Similarly, for the e-reader system, many of the impacts were

Material impact(s): 
Water consumption
Manufacturing impact(s): 
Global warming
Shipping impact(s): 
Global warming
Usage impact(s): 
Global warming
End of life impact(s): 
Global warming


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