A group project on the assessment of use and depletion of water resources within LCA

The WULCA working group works as an international working group focusing on water use assessment and water footprinting taking the life cycle perspective. The group was founded in August 2007 under the auspices of the UNEP/Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) Life Cycle Initiative, a partnership to enable users around the world to put life cycle thinking into effective practice. The working group represents a community of people from academia, various industries (e.g. chemical, food and consumer goods industry, pulp and paper, water treatment, etc.) and public institutions. Constituting a multi-stakeholder group, the group acts globally and cross-sectoral.

The WULCA working group’s overall goal focuses on providing practitioners, from both industry and academia, with a coherent framework within which to measure, assess and compare the environmental performance of products and operations regarding freshwater use. The specific objectives comprise to:

  • develop a general assessment framework for water use including indicators that measure the environmental impacts on human health, ecosystems and freshwater resources;
  • establish adequate water inventory schemes and parameters;
  • establish impact assessment methods for characterizing water use and related environmental impacts;
  • derive recommended practice and guidance for LCA method developers and practitioners.

The key activities involve:

  • the development of a consistent scheme for freshwater use accounting and reporting;
  • modeling of the impacts generated by freshwater use depending on the geographical context;
  • harmonization of the LCA scheme towards freshwater use accounting and water impact assessment;
  • application of the methods and indicators developed on industrial case studies;
  • communication and dissemination within industry and the scientific community.

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