Life Cycle Analysis

Comprehensive LCA studies by ILA

Responding to requests from end-users and regulators, and as part of the lead industry’s own sustainable development goals, the International Lead Association (ILA), has conducted a range of detailed Life Cycle Assessments (LCA).  

ILA has undertaken LCAs which investigate the environmental impact associated with the production of lead metal and the most significant manufactured lead products (lead-based batteries used in vehicles and architectural lead sheet for construction).

Studies and main findings:

Lead Metal Production LCA

  • Lead has one of the highest recycling rates of all materials
  • One of the lowest energy demands of any material
  • Mining and smelting have the greatest environmental impacts

Lead-based batteries LCA

  • Lead production (from ores or recycled scrap) is the dominant contributor to environmental impacts associated with the production of lead-based batteries
  • Vehicle production has a far greater lifecycle environmental impact than battery production
  • The high recycling rates associated with lead acid batteries dramatically reduce any environmental impacts
  • In terms of Global Warming Potential, the environmental advantage of improved and advanced technology lead-based batteries during the use phase far outweighs the impacts of their production
 

Architectural Lead Sheet LCA

  • Most of the environmental lifecycle impacts of lead sheet result from lead production
  • High recycling rateof lead sheet reduce its environmental impacts
  • The durability and long-service life of lead sheet adds to its life cycle credentials

When results of the LCA were compared with publically available data, the majority of environmental lifecycle impacts for lead sheet over the products lifecycle were lower than alternative roofing materials.

LCA is one of the tools that is increasingly being used to examine the environmental impact of a product through its entire life cycle.  For metals, a typical ‘cradle to grave’ LCA study covers the mining and extraction of raw materials, their fabrication, use, and recycling/disposal, and includes energy and transportation considerations and all the other product supplies required. 

The LCA’s conducted by ILA follow the rules and methodologies defined by ISO Standards 14040 and 14044 and identify where the greatest environmental impacts occur and where improvement actions would deliver the greatest benefits.

 If you are interested in accessing any of the LCA conducted by ILA, please contact Dr Alistair Davidson

Technology

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