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A Commodity Supply Mix for More Regionalized Life Cycle Assessments

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  • Michael Lathuilliere
  • Laure Patouillard
  • Manuele Margni
  • Ben Ayre
  • Pernilla Lofgren
  • Vivian Ribeiro
  • Christopher David West
  • Toby A. Gardner
  • Clement Suavet


Publication details

JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Jul 2021
DateE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2021
DatePublished (current) - 7 Sep 2021
Issue number17
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)12054–12065
Early online date10/08/21
Original languageEnglish


Supply chain information is invaluable to further regionalize product life cycle assessments (LCAs), but detailed information linking production and consumption centers is not always available. We introduce the commodity supply mix (CSM) defined as the trade-volume-weighted average representing the combined geographic areas for the production of a commodity exported to a given market with the goal of (1) enhancing the relevance of inventory and impact regionalization and (2) allocating these impacts to specific markets. We apply the CSM to the Brazilian soybean supply chain mapped by Trase to obtain the mix of ecoregions and river basins linked to domestic consumption and exports to China, EU, France, and the rest of the world, before quantifying damage to biodiversity, and water scarcity footprints. The EU had the lowest potential biodiversity damage but the largest water scarcity footprint following respective sourcing patterns in 12 ecoregions and 18 river basins. These results differed from the average impact scores obtained from Brazilian soybean production information alone. The CSM can be derived at different scales (subnationally, internationally) using existing supply chain information and constitutes an additional step toward greater regionalization in LCAs, particularly for impacts with greater spatial variability such as biodiversity and water scarcity.

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Authors

    Research areas

  • life cycle inventory, spatialization, supply chains, biodiversity, water scarcity, soybean, Brazil, trade


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