JOANNEUM RESEARCH is performing an environmental assessment using the methodology of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The aim is to identify, quantify and assess the most important environmental impacts and benefits of rubber, inulin and fructose production from TKS based on the whole value chain. The environmental effects are analyzed for each process in the value chain (cultivation, transports, conversion and waste treatment) and in comparison to the processes of conventional rubber, inulin and fructose production.
LCA has become a standard tool, defined in the international Standards ISO 14040 and 14044: LCA is a method to compile and assess the input and output flows as well as the potential environmental effects of a product system during the various stages of its life cycle. Environmental effects include the use of natural resources and the effects of emissions. The stages include extraction of raw materials, manufacturing, distribution, product use, recycling and final disposal (from cradle to grave/gate).
In a first step in LCA different cases are modelled by defining the system boundaries, the TKS production chain and relevant reference systems. The reference systems are conventional production chains that provide the same main products and co-products and use the same areas of land as the TKS system. In the figure below the comparison of cases producing natural rubber and inulin in comparison with the conventional reference system is shown.