Opportunities and limitations of using life cycle assessment methodology in the ICT sector

Use of life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology for information and communications technology (ICT) equipment, networks, services and organizations is growing in importance. The complexity of conducting LCA for ICT has led to several initiatives (e.g. by ITU-T and ETSI) to develop standardized methodologies. LCA is an important methodological platform for understanding environmental impact of various product systems and is found to provide a good basis for prioritization of a company's environmental work. However, results of an LCA are always model-based representations of the real environmental impact, and the absolute impact of a certain equipment, network, service or organization is beyond reach. LCA results are only valid under the assumptions of the study and are still associated with substantial uncertainty, which needs to be considered to the extent needed to understand the study results. This paper demonstrates that by examples related to uncertainty and variability of scenarios and data.


Pernilla Bergmark, Fredrik Guldbrandsson