As products and services have become more geographically diverse in their resources, manufacturing and assembly operations, usage, and final disposition, the need for LCA users to obtain data that accurately and consistently measure the resource consumption and environmental aspects of those activities has never been more acute.
Providing a sound scientific bases for product stewardship in business and industry and for life cycle–based policies in governments ultimately helps to advance the sustainability of products and society’s economic activities. For the past two decades, databases have been developed, maintained, and updated by different general database providers, by academics and researchers, by industry sector database providers, and by industry internal groups. The primary basis for development of global guidance principles is the belief that agreement on recommended practices for data collection, modelling, aggregation, and insertion in databases exists for a large percentage of the aspects to be addressed. Thus, the workshop that resulted in this global guidance principles document focused on getting consensus on aspects where prior agreement was not achieved.
In early February 2011, 48 participants from 23 countries gathered in Shonan Village, southeast of Tokyo, Japan, for the Workshop on Global Guidance Principles for Life Cycle Assessment Databases, a Pellston workshop (informally to be known as the “Shonan Guidance Principles Workshop”) to develop principles for creating, managing, and disseminating datasets for the purpose of supporting life cycle assessments (LCAs) of globally produced products and services. The Pellston format, established by the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) in the 1970s and used since in some 50 workshops worldwide, strives for a consensus approach among a diverse group of experts. Strict groundrules on the conduct of the workshop and the participation of the attendees were enforced to allow for an open, honest, objective, and individual (rather than organizational) forum.