LCA Society of Japan

LCA Project (FY1998-FY2002)


In recent years, LCA has been watched with keen interest as a method for evaluating environmental load in order to realize the sustainable development. The standardization of these methods has been promoted by the ISO (the International Organization for Standardization), and in Japan also, research activities in the national and private organizations has become ever more active. Above all, in the LCA Society of Japan, with the support of MITI and the participation of 250 national, industrial and academic organizations, the methodology and applications of LCA were studied in detail during the period 1995-1997. As a result of this study the following activities were deemed to be necessary:

  1. Establishment of LCA tools for the whole of Japan;
  2. Construction of a Japanese public database;
  3. Establishment of LCA application rules;
  4. Establishment of education and popularization systems for both the public and industries.

Based on the above proposal, a national budget for the project "Development of Assessment Technology of Life Cycle Environment Impacts of Products and so forth" starting in the 1998 fiscal year with a 5-year schedule (managed by MITI; 196,879,000 yen for the first fiscal year) was approved and the project started full scale activity with the following plan and organization.

For details, please refer to "Current LCA Database Development in Japan - Results of the LCA Project", Narita, Nobuhiko; Nakahara, Yoshihumi; Morimoto, Mamoru; Aoki, Ryohsuke; Suda, Shigeru, Int. J. LCA, 9(6) 355-359 (2004)

Purpose of Activity and its Applications

The purpose of this project includes the development of (1) LCA methodrogy, (2) LCA database, for the whole of Japan, and (3) a network system which is easily operable by users, and also the application of the results of developments in the following fields.

  1. Application to industrial production activities
    (1) Popularization of eco-design,
    (2) Construction of eco-process
  2. Application to marketing Persuasive
    (1) Approval of eco-labeling,
    (2) Establishment of environment specification
  3. Reflection in Environmental Administration
    (1) Green Purchasing,
    (2) Coping with COP3 Protocol, etc.
  4. Acceleration of LCA popularization
    (1) Popularization of reliable LCA software,
    (2) Enrichment of textbooks for education,
    (3) Training of LCA experts

Promotion Organization

As the organizations for promotion, the Inventory Study Committee, the Database Study Committee and the Impact Study Committee have been set up, and the Administration Committee works to adjust the items of studies of the three committees and to preside over the overall activity.

There are 22 industry groups participating in the project, which have been the main members of the LCA Japan Forum , and there are great expectations for compilation of inventory data by each group.

The activity of this project is independent of the LCA Japan Forum, but a close relationship will be kept through an Advisory Committee, newly organized within the Forum with veterans of universities, research laboratories and industries as members.

Activities and Schedule

The following is an outline of the activities of 3 study committees.

1. Inventory Study Committee

In order to construct the transparent and reliable inventory data, each industry group collects data by Summing-up Methods. In order to supplement unavailable data, theoretical calculations will be performed based on Input-Output Analysis, Statistics, and Process Models. (As for the venous industries such as waste treatment and recycling system, the statistical data are so scarce and the estimate calculations are so difficult, that the result will be limited within the clarification of the inventory analysis method and the compilation of inventory data within the range of capability.).

The system flow diagram is shown in Fig. 1, but its style of expression is basically in accordance with ISO 14040 and 14041.

2. Impact Assessment Study Committee

In order to establish a Japanese persuasive Impact Assessment Method, classification and characterization of environment-affecting substances with the premise of conformity with ISO 14042 and 14043 and taking into account the environmental capacity of our country. Furthermore, studies on the valuations and conformity evaluation methods including interpretation of study results are executed and an appropriate assessment method, applicable to the purpose of the user, is proposed. An LCA case study is also performed assuming actual usage, and, consequently the LCA database and the LCA method are checked for reliable operability.

3. Database Study Committee

In order to develop a LCA public database which is easily operable by users and easily maintainable and manageable by suppliers, the LCA database construction, database system, and interface to LCA data access will be designed and constructed as shown in Fig.2.

This project has a 5-year activity schedule as shown in Fig. 3, but the main subjects are scheduled to be completed and available for actual use within 3 years. During the remaining 2 years, the research will be focused on the overall case studies and interpretation methods. With these studies, additional data supplement and system improvement will be expected.

Fig.1 Database System Flow
Fig.1 Database System Flow

Conceptual Points

Establishment of flow through related industries from mining to disposal
Setting of boundaries between industries
Setting the range of database
Coordination of treatment of by-products / recycled products

Fig.2 Concept of LCA Database
Fig.2 Concept of LCA Database

Fig.3 Budget and Schedule of LCA Project
Fig.3 Budget and Schedule of LCA Project