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Keywords:

  • functional unit;
  • imaging;
  • impact assessment;
  • industrial ecology;
  • ISO 14000;
  • publishing

Summary

This article compares life cycle assessment studies performed on imaging equipment for the consumer market in order to identify common practices, limitations, areas for improvement, and opportunities for standardization. The analysis suggests that comparisons across studies are significantly hampered by variability in scope, transparency, data sources, and assumptions; it identifies sources of discrepancy and variability. Of particular concern to printing devices was the definition of a functional unit, which can vary significantly depending on the capabilities and use patterns of a printer. Standardization of the functional unit and related assumptions has a high potential to increase quantitative comparability across studies. At the same time, standardizing the functional unit by paper usage excludes the possibility of comparison to alternative communication media.