Review of life cycle assessment on consumer electronic products: Developments and the way ahead
Life cycle assessment (LCA) has grown rapidly and is now well established within the electronics industry. The growing number of journal publications, conferences, and special issues is a proof for the same. A number of literature reviews have been published till now in this area focusing on different aspects. This study has identified 134 significant journal articles to conduct a systematic and narrative literature review. This review covers a wide range of product categories and analyzes the usefulness of LCA as a decision-making tool within the electronics industry which has not been explored fully in previous reviews conducted in this area of research. For this purpose, we organized LCA studies into 10 main product categories. A narrative review was employed to summarize the significant findings from the LCA studies. Although the central objective of all the studies was to evaluate the environmental impact created by the product, the focus and methods employed differed. A systematic review was used to categorize the overall frameworks used in the studies. The studies were classified based on their research purpose, types of approach, LCIA methods used, system boundaries involved, data collection methods, and data analysis levels. Within the subcategory of research purpose, three research domains were identified and the studies were classified accordingly. Generally it has been revealed that use phase, end of life, and production phase are the dominant phases in that order. However discrepancies occur owing to functional units, data usage, and assumptions made. All these and more make benchmarking difficult. Finally we identified gaps that merit attention in future research. It is also hoped that this review is a good resource for anyone interested in doing research on LCA of electronic products, helping them identify current research trends, provide suggestions for future research, and stimulate interest in creating new research directions.