During the “Intelec 2013” Conference, held in Copenhagen on October 2013, Telecom Italia and Politecnico di Torino presented an article describing LCA and EPD related activities on Telecom Italia commercial products used in the context of the operator’s broadband services.
The 2011 LCA study of a Telecom Italia Home Gateway was described, as performed by means of primary data collection and information from literature for all the stages of the life cycle of the product (cradle to grave approach). This approach allowed to calculate the whole environmental burden of “one modem unit” life cycle by means of a data collection performed in collaboration with Telecom Italia and ADB Broadband. The analysis took into account the manufacturing operations and all the supply chains considered significant for the study.
The analysis was developed according to the ISO Standards 14040, ISO 14044 and the International EPD® System General Programme Instructions (GPI, 2013) and it was performed by means a customized software for Life Cycle Assessment calculations. A Product Category Rules (PCR) document, developed (in cooperation with Zyxel) for the home gateway product category and taking into account the GPI, has been developed and then presented at the Conference; the aim was to enable the publication of a certified EPD providing details on the product’s environmental performance in a life cycle perspective. The resulting Home and SOHO Gateways PCR document replaced PCR 2005:02 Media Gateway (expired in 2008) and PCR ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line Customer Premises Equipment, expired in 2010). The actual PCR document was developed referring to the ETSI TS 103 199: "Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of ICT equipment, networks and services", version 1.1.1, dated 2011-11.
During the presentations the advantages of the EPD adoption and the next steps for elaborating such a document for Telecom Italia home gateways on the basis of the LCA analysis were also shown.
The presentation was generally well received by the audience: a few questions have been received on the potential complexity of the analysis behind the EPD elaboration, but the availability of a guideline for this category of products has been appreciated. As well, some discussion has been held on the need for adopting a “light” approach to LCA analysis, restricting the scope to the necessary sub-phases of the life cycle and optimising the ratio between time/costs of the analysis and image advantages related to the publication of the EPD. It was also underlined that performing LCA analysis and elaborating an EPD contributes to the overall efficiency as it allows identifying environmental improvements for next generations of products also corresponding to cost reductions