As outlined in the various sections, in every stage of the life cycle Accoya’s sustainably sourced timber provides compelling environmental advantages. As we value transparency at Accsys, all claims about our sustainable lumber are always referenced to recognised standards. Therefore, the environmental performance of Accoya® is thoroughly tested and published following uncompromising leading independent international methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis (LCA following ISO 14040/44) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPD following ISO 14025 and EN 15804). Besides this we seek to acquire the most respected ecolabels worldwide.
Carbon footprint – cradle to gate
In a carbon footprint assessment, the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) during the life cycle of a material can be measured, and compared to alternative products in terms of kg CO2 equivalent (CO2e). A carbon footprint assessment was executed for Accoya® wood by Verco in line with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and World Resources Institute’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Protocol best practice guidelines, based on a cradle to gate scenario, thus until the factory gate. This includes sourcing, harvesting and processing of the input lumber, as well as all energy and raw material consumption and waste production in the acetylation plant of Accsys Technologies in Arnhem, the Netherlands. The results are shown in the graph below.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
(kg C02 eq per m3 of material)
Carbon footprint – cradle to grave
The figure below shows the greenhouse gas emissions per m3 of Accoya® wood from the Verco report, translated into real life application of a window frame by Delft University of Technology, in order to account for the use-phase aspects such as material use, durability, carbon sequestration (following PAS 2050 guidelines), maintenance and recycling scenarios. For details of the calculation please refer to the resources at the bottom of this section.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions (cradle to grave)
(per window frame per material in kg C02 eq) The results show that Accoya® scores significantly better than metals (aluminium), plastics (PVC), and unsustainably sourced hardwood and is on par with sustainably sourced (certified) hardwood. In case locally sourced sustainable lumber is used to produce Accoya, it is the best choice from environmental point of view, not yet including the better performance characteristics such as the improved dimensional stability and UV resistance. Interestingly, because of the limited emissions during production, carbon credits that can be ‘earned’ through i) temporary carbon storage during use (especially in case of a long lifespan) and ii) incineration for electricity in the End of Life phase, all sustainably sourced wood alternatives, including Accoya, are CO2 negative over the full life cycle. It should be noted that the annual yield of renewable materials is not included in the carbon footprint, which, as detailed before, provides an important additional environmental advantage to wood, and in particular for Accoya based on Radiata Pine, over non renewable materials. For example, the availability of sustainably sourced Meranti is limited, which makes illegal sourcing – with its catastrophic consequences – of this slow growing hardwood species from tropical forests a reality which often occurs.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
Besides the carbon footprint, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) according to ISO 14040/44 and Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) according to ISO 14025 / EN 15804 are two other commonly used methodologies to assess the environmental impact of a product. Besides the Global Warming Potential (GWP), which is basically a carbon footprint, LCA and EPD also include environmental effects such as acidification, eutrophication, smog, dust, bio-diversity, toxicity, depletion, land-use and waste. Although more difficult to overview than the single indicator carbon footprint, the LCA and EPD provide similar results as the carbon footprint. For details refer to the resources below.
- Carbon footprint – cradle to gate (Verco 2012)
- Carbon footprint – window frame – cradle to grave (TU Delft 2013)
- Environmental Product Declaration – cladding, decking & planed timber – EN 15804
- Environmental Product Declaration – window frame – EN 15408
- Life Cycle Assessment – ISO 14040/44 (TU Delft, 2010)
- Article Environment Industry magazine (2013)