Academic education Training provided to students by a college or a university.

Acidification potential Acidification potential is caused by direct outlets of acids or by outlets of gases that form acid in contact with air humidity and are deposited to soil and water. Examples are: Sulphur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen oxides (NOx), Ammonia (NH3). Acid depositions have negative impacts on natural ecosystems and the man-made environment incl. buildings. The main sources for emissions of acidifying substances are agriculture and fossil fuel combustion used for electricity production, heating and transport.

Allocation "Partitioning of the input and output flows of a process or other product system to the product system under study." (Source: ISO 14040)

Analysing products (LCA studies) Evaluating the reduction of the product environmental negative effects and setting priorities in product improvement.

Benchmarking products Comparison of products to determine improvement, optimisation and saving potentials.

Benchmarking sites Comparison of sites to determine improvement, optimisation and saving potentials.

Best available techniques Reference document (BREF) BAT reference documents creates under the IPPC Directive 96/61/EC "The BREFs will inform the relevant decision makers about what may be technically and economically available to industry in order to improve their environmental performance and consequently improve the whole environment." (Source: )

Capacity building "Improving and building the technical and managerial skills and resources within an organisation." Here related to capacity to perform and/or review LCA studies and providing life cycle related services. (Source: World Bank)

Carbon dioxide Gas naturally produced by any living organism during respiration including through microbial decay of biomass, and taken up by plants during photosynthesis. Although it only constitutes 0.04 percent of the atmosphere, it is one of the most important greenhouse gases. The combustion of fossil fuels is increasing the Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, which is generally accepted by scientists to contribute to Climate change.

Carbon dioxide equivalent A metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their Climate change potential (CCP). The carbon dioxide equivalent for other emissions is derived by multiplying the amount of the emission by the associated CCP factor, e.g. [x kg gas] * [y CCP-factor of the gas]. For example, the CCP100-factor for Methane is 21 and for nitrous oxide 310. This means that emissions of 1 kg of methane and nitrous oxide are equivalent to emissions of 21 and 310 kg of carbon dioxide, respectively.

Category / Impact category "Class representing environmental issue of concern." E.g. Climate change, Acidification, Ecotoxicity ec. (Source: ISO 14042)

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) A mechanism in the Kyoto Protocol that makes it possible for developed and developing countries to perform joint environmental projects in the developing country financed by developed countries. The resulting emission reduction can be credited to the developed country, which payed for the improvement in the developing country.

Comparative assertion "Environmental claim regarding the superiority or equivalence of one product versus a competing product which performs the same function." (Source: ISO 14040)

Comparative life cycle assessment Comparison of LCA results for different products, systems or services that perform the same function. Often the products, systems, or services are competitive.

Cradle to grave A "Cradle-to-grave" assessment considers impacts at each stage of a product's life-cycle, from the time natural resources are extracted from the ground and processed through each subsequent stage of manufacturing, transportation, product use, recycling, and ultimately, disposal.

Cut-off criteria "Specification of amount of material or energy flow or level of environmental significance associated with unit processes or product system to be excluded from the study." (Source: ISO 14040)

Damage approach See "Endpoint method"

Depletion of abiotic resources Consumption of non-renewable resources, such as zinc ore and crude oil, thereby lowering their availability for future generations.

Design for Environment (DfE) Design for Environment (DfE) or Ecodesign are methods supporting product developers in reducing the total environmental impact of a product early in the product development process. This includes reducing resource consumption as well as emissions and waste. New EU directives such as WEEE and RoHS introduce the concept of ecodesign. A sound life cycle based Ecodesign can potentailly enable to provide reliable decision support at a largely reduced effort for performing the study.

Design for recycling (DfR) "Design for recycling is a method that implies the following requirements of a product: easy to dismantle, easy to obtain 'clean' material-fractions, that can be recycled (e.g. iron and copper should be easy to separate), easy to remove parts/components, that must be treated separately, use as few different materials as possible, mark the materials/polymers in order to sort them correct, avoid surface treatment in order to keep the materials 'clean'." (Source: Danish EPA Eco Design Guide)

Eco-efficiency Joint analysis of the environmental and economic implications of a product or technology, aiming to support choosing the method for production, service, disposal or recovery that makes most ecological and economic sense, ensuring optimum conservation of resources, minimum emissions and waste generation at a low overall cost.

Eco-efficiency studies See Eco-efficiency

Eco-management and auditing scheme (EMAS) A Community scheme, adopted by the European Union in 1993, allowing voluntary participation by companies performing industrial activities, established for the evaluation and improvement of the environmental performance of industrial activities and the provision of the relevant information to the public. The objective of the scheme is to promote continuous improvements in the environmental performance of industrial activities by:
(a) the establishment and implementation of environmental policies, programs and management systems by companies, in relation to their sites;
(b) the systematic, objective and periodic evaluation of the performance of such elements;
(c) the provision of information of environmental performance to the public.

Ecodesign See Design for Environment

Ecolabel An "ecolabel" is a label which identifies overall environmental preference of a product or service within a specific product/service category based on life cycle considerations. Ecolabels exists at EU level (the EU Flower), regional level (e.g. The Swan in Scandinavia), and national level (e.g. The Blue Angel in Germany).

Ecology The branch of science studying the interactions among living organisms and their environment.

Ecotoxicity potential Potential environmental toxicity of residues, leachate, or volatile gases to the biocoenosis of plants and animals. Ecotoxic substances alter the composition of the species of ecosystems, destabilising it thereby and additionally threathening sensitive species in their existence.

Emission trading Market-based approach that makes it possible for organizations or countries to buy and sell greenhouse gas emission reductions . Part of e.g. the Kyoto Protocol.

Endpoint method The endpoint method (or damage approach) tries to model the effects of emissions directly for the protection targets (natural environment's ecosystems, human health, resource availability). Endpoint methods typically follow the midpoint modelling considering the severity and reversibility of effects and the models' uncertainties.

Energy-using Products Directive (EuP) Directive 2005/32/EC on the eco-design of Energy-using Products (EuP). "Products such as electrical and electronic devices or heating equipment are covered by the directive that provides coherent EU-wide rules for eco-design and ensure that disparities among national regulations do not become obstacles to intra-EU trade. The Directive does not introduce directly binding requirements for specific products, but does define conditions and criteria for setting, through subsequent implementing measures, requirements regarding environmentally relevant product characteristics (such as energy consumption) and allows them to be improved quickly and efficiently." (Source:

Environmental Aspect Element of an organization's activities, products or services that can interact with the environment.

Environmental assessment A detailed study of the reasonably foreseeable significant effects on the environment, beneficial as well as adverse, of a product, service or process. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) are examples of environmental assessment methods.

Environmental effect "An environmental effect is caused by an environmental impact. The environmental effect may in turn give rise to a new impact in the impact pathway until the endpoint." (Source: IPU, Denmark)

Environmental impact Impact on the environment and those human health effects that occur via uptake of toxic substances via air, water, and food.

Environmental impact assessment (EIA), ##?Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) A technique used for identifying the environmental effects of development projects. As a result of Directive 85/337/EEC (as amended 1997), this is now a legislative procedure to be applied to the assessment of the environmental effects of certain public and private projects, which are likely to have significant effects on the environment.

Environmental indicator An environmental indicator can be a measurable feature or features that provide managerially and scientifically useful evidence of environmental and ecosystem quality or reliable evidence of trends in quality. Thus, environmental indicators must be measurable with available technology, scientifically valid for assessing or documenting ecosystem quality, and useful for providing information for management decision making. Indicators can be used to:
  • compare current conditions with desired performance,
  • show trends over time, to allow comparisons between different regions,
  • help judge the sustainability of current practices, and
  • define and publicise new standards and measures for assessing progress toward a sustainable future.

Environmental Management Systems (EMS) A set of processes and practices that enable an organization to reduce its environmental impact and increase its operating efficiency. See also "Environmental Management and Audit Scheme".

Environmental performance "The actual measured results that an organisation attains through environmental management." (Source: ISO 14001)

Environmental performance evaluation An evaluation to quantify, understand and track the relevant environmental aspects of a system. The basic idea is to identify indicators (environmental, operational and management), which can be measured and tracked to facilitate continuous improvements. (Source: EEA, modified)

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) An internationally standardized (ISO 14025) and LCA based method to communicate the environmental performance of a product or service.

Environmental reporting Process for publicly disclosing an organisation's environmental performance.

Environmental risk Likelihood, or probability, of injury, disease, or death of humans resulting from exposure to a potential environmental hazard.

Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) Process of identifying and evaluating the adverse effects on the environment caused by a chemical substance. Often implied in the way, that an environmental exposure to the chemical is predicted and compared to a predicted no-effect concentration, supplying risk ratios for different environmental media.

Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) A life cycle based European strategy for eco-innovation and environmental technologies. It is composed of actions around three main themes: Getting from Research to Markets; Improving Market Conditions; Acting globally. A key aspect is the setting of performance targets for products, that base upon the technical and economic feasibility of their implementation in relationship to the potential improvement for the environment.

External costs, Externalities Cost not included in the market price of the goods and services being produced, but caused by e.g. emissions and damages these cause to goods and to the environment, which costs of repair or compensation are borne by the society in general.

Global warming potential (GWP), better: Climate change potential (CCP) Changes in the global, average surface-air temperature and subsequent change of various climate parameters and their effects such as storm frequency and intensity, rainfall intensity and frequency of floodings etc. Climate change is caused by the greenhouse effect which is induced by emission of greenhouse gases into the air.

Green Procurement A procurement process, which takes into account environmental elements when buying products and services. To prevent a mere shifting of burdens of environmental damages among life cycle phases or among environmental problems, an effective Green Procurement should be based on a life cycle thinking or life cycle assessment.

Green Public Procurement (GPP) A procurement process carried out by public purchasers to take into account environmental elements when buying products and services. See also Green Procurement.

Greenhouse effect Warming of the atmosphere due to the reduction in outgoing long wave heat radiation resulting from their absorption by gases such as Carbon dioxide, Methane, etc.

Hazardous waste Wastes that because of their chemical reactivity, toxicity, explosiveness, corrosiveness, radioactivity or other characteristics, constitutes a risk to human health or the environment.

Human toxicity potential (HTP) The degree to which a chemical substance elicits a deleterious or adverse effect upon the biological system of human exposed to the substance over a designated time period.

Integrated Pollution and Prevention Control (IPPC) Directive 96/61/EC to prevent or, where that is not possible, reduce pollution from a range of industrial and other installations by means of integrating permitting process as based on the application of best available techniques (BAT).

Integrated product policy (IPP) Approach founded on the consideration of the impacts of products throughout their life-cycle to improve the environmental performance of products in an cost-effective way.

Internalization of externalities Incorporation of an externality into the market decision making process through pricing or regulatory interventions. For example, internalization is achieved by charging polluters with the damage costs of the pollution generated by them, in accordance with the "polluter pays principle".

ISO 14000 A series of standards emitted or being prepared by the International Standards Organization (ISO), covering a number of environmental topics.

ISO 14001 ISO standard on Environmental Management System, EMS, that can be adopted by any organization.

ISO 14040 ISO standard on Environmental Management System, EMS, concerning Life Cycle Assessment of products and processes. ISO 14040 is a framework for the standards ISO 14041, ISO 14042, and ISO 14043 that concerns the specific phases of an LCA. (The ISO standards 14041, 14042, and 14043 are integrated, harmonised, and replaced in 2006 by ISO 14044).

Joint Implementation (JI) A concept in which a developed country is involved in emission reduction projects that result in a real, measurable and long-term reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions in a developing country. Part of e.g. the Kyoto Protocol.

Kyoto Protocol International treaty that was adopted at the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. It contains legally binding commitments, in addition to those included in the UNFCCC. Countries included in Annex B of the Protocol (most OECD countries and EITs) agreed to reduce their anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6) by at least 5 % below 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008 to 2012.

Land use Impact category related to use (occupation) and conversion (transformation) of land area by product-related activities such as agriculture, roads, housing, mining etc. Land occupation considers the effects of the land use, the amount of area involved and the duration of its occupation (quality-changes multiplied with area and duration). Land transformation considers the extend of changes in land properties and the area affected (quality changes multiplied with the area).

Life cycle Consecutive and interlinked stages of a product system, from raw material extraction, through production of materials and intermediates, parts to products, through product use or service operation to recycling and/or final disposal.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a process of compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle.

Life Cycle Cost (LCC) Two different uses for this term exist: a) The total cost linked to the purchase, operation, and disposal of a product (equivalent to "Total Cost of Ownership" (TCO))
b) The cost of a product or service over its entire life cycle including external costs (see "Externalities").

Life Cycle Engineering (LCE) Integrated approach for design and development of products and technologies, that jointly analyses environmental effects and costs from a life cycle perspective, paying special attention to product performance, technical feasibility of measures and other engineering aspects. The environmental analysis usually employs an LCA, the economic an LCC.

Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) "Phase of life cycle assessment involving the compilation and quantification of inputs and outputs for a given product system throughout its life cycle." (Source: ISO 14040)

Life Cycle Impact Assessment methods (LCIA) Methods which provide impact factors for elementary flows to evaluate the environmental effects of a product or a process, through its whole life cycle. See also environmental impact assessment

Life Cycle Initiative (UNEP/SETAC LCI) "The Life Cycle Initiative aims to develop and disseminate practical tools for evaluating the opportunities, risks, and trade-offs associated with products and services over their entire life cycle to achieve sustainable development." (Source:

Life Cycle Inventory analysis ( LCI) "Phase of life cycle assessment involving the compilation and quantification of inputs and outputs for a given product system throughout its life cycle." (Source: ISO 14040)

Life Cycle Management (LCM) Life Cycle Management is a business management concept based on life cycle considerations, which can be used in the development and application of sustainability strategies. Life cycle management is about minimizing environmental burdens throughout the life cycle of a product or service.

Life cycle risk analysis Method of evaluating the probability of adverse effects of a substance, industrial process, technology or natural process from a life cycle perspective.

Life cycle sustainability Method, taking jointy into account the economic, social, and environmental aspects throughout the whole life of a product or technology.

Life cycle thinking (LCT) The concept of Life Cycle Thinking integrates existing consumption and production strategies towards a more coherent policy making and in industry, employing a bundle of life cycle based approaches and tools. By considering the whole life cycle, the shifting of problems from one life cycle stage to another, from one geographic area to another and from one environmental medium or protection target to another is avoided.

Life Cycle Working Environment (LCWE) Inclusion of social working environment issues such as human working time, qualifications, workers health, accidents, child work etc. in LCA by means of quantitative indicators.

Material flow analysis (MFA) "An evaluation method which assesses the efficiency of use of materials using information from material flow accounting. Material flow analysis helps to identify waste of natural resources and other materials in the economy which would otherwise go unnoticed in conventional economic monitoring systems." (Source: Eurostat)

Material recovery Restoration of materials found in the waste stream to a beneficial use which may be for purposes other than the original use.

Material Safety Data Sheet, MSDS Information on a product's health and environmental hazards such as safe handling, transportation, storage, physical data (e.g. boiling, melting, and flash point), toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, disposal, protective equipment, and spill/leak procedures.

Mid-point method "A term that specifies the results of traditional LCIA characterization and normalization methods as indicators located between emission and endpoint damages in the impact pathway at the point where it is judged that further modelling involves too much uncertainty." (Source: IPU, Denmark)

Monitoring the effects of environmental policy Process of following up the effects of the decisions and actions established in the environmental policy.

Non-renewable resource Minerals, ores and fossile fuels. Their use as material and energy sources leads to depletion of the Earth's reserves as they do cannot be renewed in human relevant periods of time.

Ozone Ozone, the triatomic form of oxygen (O3), is a gaseous atmospheric constituent. In the troposphere, it is created both naturally and by photochemical reactions involving gases resulting from human activities (photochemical smog). In high concentrations, tropospheric ozone can be harmful to a wide range of living organisms. In the stratosphere, ozone is created by the interaction between solar ultraviolet radiation and molecular oxygen (O2). Stratospheric ozone plays a decisive role in the stratospheric radiative balance. Depletion of stratospheric ozone, due to chemical reactions, results in an increased ground-level flux of ultraviolet (UV-) B radiation.

Ozone depletion potential (ODP) The integrated change in total stratospheric ozone per unit mass emission of a specific compound, relative to the integrated change in the total ozone per unit mass of a reference emission (e.g. CFC-11).

Ozone-depleting substance A compound that contributes to stratospheric ozone depletion. Ozone-depleting substances (ODS) include CFCs, HCFCs, halons, methyl bromide, carbon tetrachloride, and methyl chloroform. The most relevant ODS are very stable in the troposphere and only degrade under intense ultraviolet light in the stratosphere. When they break down, they release chlorine or bromine atoms, which then deplete ozone.

Performance indicator Performance indicators compare actual conditions with a specific set of reference conditions. Some of them measure the "distance(s)" between the current environmental situation and the desired situation (target): distance to target assessment.

Photochemical ozone formation (or Photochemical oxidant creation) "Chemical reactions brought about by the light energy of the sun. The reaction of nitrogen oxides with hydrocarbons in the presence of sunlight to form ozone is an example of a photochemical reaction." (Source: California Air Resources Board. Glossary of air pollution terms)

Product Stewardship Product Stewardship is "the responsible and ethical management of the health, safety and environmental aspects of a product throughout its total life cycle."

Quantifying indirect effects Measuring the results of products or processes, not directly linked with them, e.g. the environmental impacts related to the production of materials, which are used in the analysed process.

Radiation Energy that is radiated or transmitted in the form of rays or waves or particles.

  1. A resource recovery method involving the collection and treatment of a waste product for use as raw material in the manufacture of the same or a similar product.
  2. The EU waste strategy distinguishes between: reuse meant as a material reuse without any structural changes in materials; recycling meant as a material recycling, only, and with a reference to structural changes in products; and recovery meant as an energy recovery only.

Responsible Care A voluntary program developed by the chemical industry that helps it to raise its standards and win greater trust from the public. Under Responsible Care, the worldwide chemical industry is committed to continual improvement in all aspects of health, safety and environmental performance and to open communication about its activities and achievements.

Restrictions of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive 2002/95/EC on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) is together with directive 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) designed to tackle the fast increasing waste stream of electrical and electronic equipment and complements European Union measures on landfill and incineration of waste. Directive 2002/95/EC requires the substitution of various heavy metals (lead, mecury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium) and brominated flame retardants (polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE)) in order to prevent the generation of hazardous waste. (Source:

Review of environmental reports Verification of the information contained in a report that addresses the environmental performance of a company.

Review of LCA reports Process intended to ensure consistency between a life cycle assessment report and the principles and the requirements of the international ISO 1404o series standards on life cycle assessment. It can be carried out by an expert (internal or external) or a panel of interested parties.

Risk Expected losses (of lives, persons injured, property damaged and economic activity disrupted) due to a particular hazard for a given area and reference period. Based on mathematical calculations, risk is the product of hazard and vulnerability.

Risk assessment The procedure in which the risks posed by inherent hazards involved in processes or situations are estimated either quantitatively or qualitatively.

Risk management Process of evaluating alternative regulatory and non-regulatory responses to risk and selecting among them. The selection process necessarily requires the consideration of legal, economic and social factors.

RoHS See Restrictions of Hazardous Substances

Screening A process used within a project to determine whether more in depth environmental assessments are needed and the type and level of these assessments.

SETAC The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) is a nonprofit, worldwide professional society comprised of individuals and institutions engaged in:
  • the study, analysis, and solution of environmental problems
  • the management and regulation of natural resourcesenvironmental educationresearch and development

SETAC's mission is to support the development of principles and practices for protection, enhancement and management of sustainable environmental quality and ecosystem integrity. SETAC is the scientific body that develops the LCA methodology.

Stakeholder An institution, organization, or group that has some interest in a particular sector, product, or system.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) "...a process to ensure that significant environmental effects arising from policies, plans, and programmes are identified, assessed, mitigated, communicated to decision-makers, monitored and that opportunities for public involvement are provided." SEA is being introduced by the Directive 2001/42/EC. (Sources:;

Supply Chain Management "The delivery of customer and economic value through integrated management of the flow of physical goods and associated information, from raw materials sourcing to delivery of finished products to consumers." (Source:

Sustainability Performance Indicators (SPI) A limited number of indicators used to find and keep track of the sustainability performance of e.g. projects, products or organizations. SPIs cover the economic, environmental (EPI), and social dimension of sustainability.

Sustainability ratings Information from a company used to assess the integration efficiency of the three sustainability pillars into its business management.

Sustainability reporting "Sustainability reporting is a process for publicly disclosing an organisation's economic, environmental, and social performance. ... Through sustainability reporting, organisations report on progress against performance goals not only for economic achievements, but for environmental protection and social well-being." (Source: Global Reporting Initiative, GRI)

Sustainability/ Sustainable development "The concept of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs." (from "Our common future", report by the Brundtland Commission).

Sustainable development indicator Indicator selected with the aim to provide information on the essence of sustainable development on the level of companies or countries; it may refer to systemic characteristics such as carrying capacities of the environment, or it may refer to interrelations between economy, society and the environment.

Terrestrial and aquatic eutrophication potential (EP) Excessive enrichment of waters and continental surfaces with nutrients, and the associated adverse biological effects.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) The total costs to own a product throughout its life, including the costs of purchase, operation, maintenance, and potential waste fees.

Toxicity The degree to which a chemical substance elicits a deleterious or adverse effect upon the biological system of an organism exposed to the substance over a designated time period.

UNEP United Nations Environmental Program

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) "Directive 2002/96/EC requires increased recycling of electrical and electronic equipment for limiting the total quantity of waste going to final disposal. Producers will be responsible for taking back and recycling electrical and electronic equipment. This will provide incentives to design electrical and electronic equipment in an environmentally more efficient way, which takes waste management aspects fully into account. Consumers will be able to return their equipment free of charge." (Source:

Waste management "Approach based on three principles (EU):
  1. Waste prevention: As a key factor the amount of generated waste should be reduced
  2. Recycling and reuse: If waste cannot be prevented, as many of the materials as possible should be recovered, preferably by recycling.
  3. Improving final disposal and monitoring: Where possible, waste that cannot be recycled or reused should be safely incinerated, with landfill only used as a last resort.
" (Source:

Waste management strategy Evaluation of the different options available for dealing with waste and their environmental and/or economic desirability.

Willingness to pay The amount an individual is willing to pay to acquire a product or service, more specifically also used regarding the willingness to pay for the repair of environmental damages. This may be elicited from stated or revealed preference approaches.

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