What’s included in life cycle data?
Life cycle management describes how materials, products and infrastructure are best managed from an environmental perspective through their complete product cycle. For nickel, it covers primary production (mining, processing, refining), first use (e.g. stainless steels, alloys, plating, batteries), end uses (e.g. transport, engineering, construction, electronics, tubular products and metal goods) and the end-of-life management of nickel-containing products (i.e. collection and recycling of nickel for return to use).
The latter is important as, for metals such as nickel, the impact associated with initial production can be amortised over time, depending on how often the nickel is recovered at the end of one product cycle (e.g. nickel batteries or nickel-containing stainless steel) and re-used in another. Thus the full ‘life cycle’ of nickel is different from, and is usually much longer than, that of the products in which it has been incorporated.
Life cycle data comprise all production stages of nickel and nickel products. The basis is the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI), where inputs and outputs of each production stage are gathered. The LCI is used to conduct the Life cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA).
The LCIA calculates various environmental impacts, such as Global Warming Potential (GWP). These impacts are the basis for conducting Life Cycle Assessments (LCA).
A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a comparison tool used by end users, regulators or other decision makers to determine the best product from an environmental perspective.