Harmonization of LCA Methodologies for Metals

Most metal commodity associations are collecting life cycle data and work on their interpretation. A comparison of the methodologies applied however showed lacking consistency. Comparing life cycle data from metals is therefore challenging.

Under the lead of the International Copper Association (ICA) and with support from PE International, the global metals industry exchanged between 2012 and 2014 in order to harmonize LCA practices. The aim of the initiative was to develop a consistent guidance on how to approach Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) and Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methodologies within the metals industry. The exercise was carried out to provide various stakeholders with guidance on a consistent approach to metal LCA studies. It enables comparisons of results across different studies, help establish credibility for LCA databases, and ensure consistent messaging within the industry. 

In total 16 national, regional and global metals associations participated in the exercise: 

  • Aluminium Association
  • Cobalt Development Institute (CDI)
  • Eurometaux
  • Euromines
  • International Aluminium Association (IAI)
  • International Copper Association (ICA)
  • International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)
  • International Lead Association (ILA)
  • International Lead Management Center Site
  • International Lead Zinc Research Organization (ILZRO)
  • International Manganese Institute (IMnI)
  • International Molybdenum Association (IMoA)
  • International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF)
  • International Zinc Association
  • Nickel Institute (NI)
  • World Steel

The guidance document (drafted by PE International) was finalized in February 2014. It covers clear guidance on the most critical aspects such as system boundaries, an approach on how to deal with by-products, the choice of LCIA categories and the coverage of recycling. It can be downloaded here.

A second document comprises the most relevant questions and answers. It can be downloaded here.


For further information please contact mmistry@nickelinstitute.org.