We further customized this LCA to better represent the true footprint of paper. We included these aspects in our study to push the limits of standard environmental evaluation:
i. Biogenic carbon
Our dynamic model lets us include the temporal aspect of absorption and emissions of biogenic carbon, by calculating the impact of the timeline between the emissions and the moment when the CO2 is reabsorbed as the trees grow. This timeline is often neglected by LCAs that use a static approach, assuming all carbon released is absorbed during the first year of biomass growth and sequestered for numerous decades.
We considered chlorine’s impact on water ecotoxicity in this study to better understand the impact of using chlorine for deinking, as well as the importance of an alternate, chlorine-free process.
iii. Biodiversity and water for specific ecoregions
We used a method recommended by UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative (2016) to evaluate paper’s impact on biodiversity and calculate impacts on biodiversity at the ecoregional level. We collected data from Rolland locations and at key North American pulp and paper producers’ plants to determine fiber origin and the biodiversity of the affected ecoregions.
iv. Landfarming of deinking sludge
We considered the impact of deinking sludge waste. To create emissions models generated by land farming, we used data specific to sludge produced by each plant in the analysis, as well as data representing specific climate and soil conditions in the affected regions.