Abiotic resource use in life cycle impact assessment—Part I- towards a common perspective

At the beginning of the SUPRIM project, there was no global consensus on the assessment of impacts from the use of abiotic resources (minerals and metals), in life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). Unlike with other impact categories such as global warming, there is not just one single, explicitly agreed-upon problem arising from the use of abiotic resources. The topic is complex and new methods are still being developed, all with different perspectives and views on resource use. For this reason, the SUPRIM project initiated a consensus process together with members from the research and mining communities, with the aim to obtain an understanding of different stakeholders’ views and concerns regarding potential issues resulting from the use of resources. This paper reports on this consensus process and its outcomes. Insights from this process are twofold: First, the outcome of the process is a clear definition of the perspectives on abiotic resources which form the starting point to further refine or develop LCIA methods on abiotic resource use. Second, the process itself has been a challenging but valuable exercise, which can inspire the evolution of other complex issues in life cycle impact assessment, where research communities face similar issues as experienced with abiotic resources (e.g. water and land use, social LCA, etc.).