Methodological issues in life cycle assessment for remanufactured products: a critical review of existing studies and an illustrative case study

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Remanufacturing is an important strategy in the manufacturing industry. A life cycle assessment (LCA) is often used to measure whether, and to what extent, a remanufactured product is ‘better’ for the environment than a newly produced equivalent. In order to obtain valid and meaningful outcomes, LCA standards and guidelines need to be followed. However, for the system boundaries selection in the LCA for remanufacturing the standards and guidelines offer insufficient guidance to practitioners. This paper reports on a literature review conducted to analyze how the first step in the LCA, i.e., the goal and scope definition stage, is shaped in prior LCAs for remanufactured products. The review suggests that the goal and scope definitions are often shrouded in obscurity in prior LCAs for remanufactured products. Moreover, different perspectives that shape the goal and scope definitions are identified and their meanings and assumptions analyzed. An illustrative case study of a real-life remanufactured product demonstrates how different perspectives in the goal and scope definition stage lead to different LCA models and different LCA outcomes. The paper concludes with several recommendations on how to shape the LCA for remanufactured products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-37
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 10-Jul-2016

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