+2 votes
Dear openLCA team,

I recently downloaded the new methods (2.0.4) and tried out the updated EF method (adapted) with OpenLCA 1.9 and Ecoinvent 3.5.

After comparing it with the impact method set I used before (ILCD 2.0 2018 midpoint) I am shocked about the differences in 'land use'. While all the other impact categories show very similar results (plusminus a few percent), land use differs drastically.

For example the two following Ecoinvent 3.5 datasets:

Extrusion, plastic film
ILCD 2.0 2018: 19.92762 Pt
EF method: 0.38889 Pt

Kraft paper production, bleached
ILCD 2.0 2018: 525.79875 Pt
EF method: 2.04827 Pt

Do you have any idea about the reasons of these dramatic differences?

Kind regards
in openLCA by (2.5k points)

4 Answers

+1 vote
by (2.5k points)
After a thorough investigation I found the problem (and the solution). The EF method (adapted) is compatible with Ecoinvent (elementary flows) except regarding the land use impact category. In this method, there are elementary flows missing (e.g. "Occupation, forest, intensive, normal") that are responsible for the wrong results. After manually adding the missing elementary flows in the EF method that are associated with Ecoinvent datasets, I come up with the same results as in the ILCD method.
0 votes
by (2.5k points)
This is a critical issue. Does anyone have an answer?
0 votes
by (4.4k points)

Dear Bernhard,

ILCD and EF are different methods, thus they are supposed to give you different results. The European commission reports says "The model for land use impact assessment is changed. In ILCD the model assessing Soil Organic Matter (SOM) loss, developed by Mila I Canals (2007) was adopted, in EF the method, a soil quality index built aggregating the indicators provided by the LANCA model (Bos et al, 2016) is implemented."

source: https://eplca.jrc.ec.europa.eu/permalink/supporting_Information_final.pdf

by (2.5k points)
Dear Tim,
thank you very much for your answer. However, as far as I understand, the most recent ILCD method set (ILCD 2.0 2018, not ILCD <2 as is described in the background document) already uses the same method as EF. If you have a look at the impact factors of the two land use methods, the characterization factors are the same. The difference is that in the'EF (adapted)' method a lot more flows are characterized. Even stranger is then that the EF method produces resutls that are only a fraction of the ILCD results.

It seems as if occupying forests (as in the case of paper production) is not fully taken into account. If you you calculate kraft paper production with the EF (adapted) method, the biggest contributors are road construction, palm and soybean cultivation. This can't be right.

EF: https://imgshare.io/image/YSmVZ
ILCD: https://imgshare.io/image/YSUa4
by (1.5k points)
as far as i know, ILCD 2.0 is just an adaptation of the old ILCD 2011 by including newest CFs. ILCD 2.0 was not "officially" released by JRC, I think it was been required by Pré to Ecoinvent centre.
Indeed, OLCA methods 2.0.4 does not mention the ILCD 2.0, but only include the JRC 2011 version (for consicentcy reasons I suppose), which for Land Use it implement a different method.
I have just ingnored this ILCD 2.0. i'm not very confident  about the revamped ILCD, i experenced something like yours too.
by (2.5k points)
Anyway, there is clearly something wrong the calculation of land use in the EF (adapted) method, as is obvious from the screenshots I posted. When forestry does not contribute to the land use of paper, you know there must be something wrong
by (4.4k points)
Dear Bernard,

please mind the description written in the general information tab of the EF (adapted) method: "PLEASE NOTE! This implementation of the EF method was adapted to better correspond with the libraries provided in SimaPro: (i) additional flows have been included as they are extensively used by the background databases and their synonyms are part of the original EF method; (ii) flows not used by the background databases have been removed from the method. Since the method was modified, it is not anymore suitable for conducting the EF studies. The original version of the method is distributed in a dedicated openLCA database (see https://nexus.openlca.org)." Meaning there is a separate EF Database in our nexus.
by (2.5k points)
Dear Tim,
thank you again for engaging in this conversation. However, I already know and read this information. This does not change the fact that the land use calculations in the EF (adapted) method do not make any sense since forestry seems to be not included in the calculations (see screenshot)
0 votes
by (2.5k points)
I calculated a bunch of other datasets and it is evident that the land use method in the EF (adapted) impact method set does not include forestry!