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LCA as strategic tool for quantifying and comparing the environmental burden of zircon production and use

Date: 01/10/2018
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The Zircon Industry Association (ZIA) asked thinkstep to develop a Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) and to conduct a full comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of zircon sand using primary data from ZIA member companies.

LCA as strategic tool for quantifying and comparing the environmental burden of zircon production and use - How can LCA information support competitive advantage, efficient communication and improved reputation?

Zircon (zirconium silicate), a naturally-occurring mineral, is an important component in the manufacture of ceramic tiles and sanitaryware. Zircon is used for a number of reasons: as an opacifier (making the tiles white, bright and glossy) and for improved technical performance such as a scratch and chemical resistant ceramic surface.  
To quantify the environmental footprint of zircon, and to compare these data with alternative additives, the Zircon Industry Association (ZIA) asked thinkstep to develop a Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) and conduct a full comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of zircon sand using primary data from ZIA member companies.

The LCA results in a nutshell

The LCA study examined the environmental impacts associated with the production of 1kg of zircon sand. Due to the comparatively low environmental impact of the downstream manufacturing process, the impact relates principally to local electricity consumption associated with upstream mining processes, much like the mining of other natural minerals. 

To know more about the project and how ZIA communicates the results: 

 

…the customer’s voice…. 

“This LCA demonstrates our commitment to environmental transparency and will allow our members to develop meaningful targets as they continually strive to reduce environmental impact. The LCA study also demonstrates that tile manufacturers and users can lower their environmental footprint by using zircon as the opacifier instead of other whiteners”. 

“Thinkstep have an excellent reputation in the field of Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment in particular, so thinkstep was a first choice for this important LCA project for ZIA. The members of the thinkstep team that we worked with were professional, quality-focussed and met deadlines at every step. A pleasure to work with.”

Dr. Keven Harlow, Executive Director, ZIA