1998-02-23

Motor Vehicles and Passenger Car Bodies Sector: Life Cycle Assessment Using Economic Input-Output Analysis 980475

We present a life cycle assessment of producing automobiles using the Environmental-Input-Output analysis tool (EIO-LCA). The tool is based on the 1987 U.S. 519 sector input-output table. Appended to the table are more recent data on energy usage and environmental discharges for each sector. All of the data, from the input-output matrix to the energy use and environmental discharges are U.S. government data and are publicly available. The EIO-LCA tool allows us to estimate all of the energy use and environmental discharges associated with making cars, not just that associated with automobile manufacturers. In contrast to the SETAC-EPA life cycle analysis tool, there is no need to draw an arbitrary boundary for the analysis or to engage in an expensive, time consuming effort to gather data on energy use and environmental discharges from each plant. In addition, the data are not confidential. Furthermore, we weight environmental discharges by toxicity, achieving a first order approximation to the health implications of these discharges. We calculate the direct and indirect use of six fuels directly, and through electricity generation, for production. Many of the results are unexpected, e.g., arsenic compounds are the largest environmental discharge, after weighting for toxicity.

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