To address the discrepancies and gaps in modeling approaches for the temporary storage of biogenic carbon within life cycle assessments (LCA), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched the “Biogenic Carbon Project” as part of the Life Cycle Initiative. This new project aims to develop a unified recommendation that brings harmonization, stability, and global consensus on the methodology. This will ensure consistent and reliable LCA results for food and other bio-based products, providing clear information about their climate impacts to decision-makers and LCA practitioners.


We are proud to announce that Simone Fazio and Francesco Cirone from the ecoinvent team have been accepted as members of three out of the four working groups within the project. Their involvement will significantly contribute to shaping the recommendations in the following key areas:


1. Temporal Aspects: This group focuses on defining how inventories and impact assessments should reflect biogenic carbon exchanges over time. Accurate temporal modeling is crucial for understanding the short- and long-term climate impacts of biogenic carbon storage and release.


2. End of Life, Reuse, and Recycling: This group investigates how to handle biogenic carbon exchange in various life cycle systems, including cradle-to-gate, cradle-to-grave, and cradle-to-cradle. This work is essential for understanding the full environmental impact of bio-based products throughout their entire lifecycle.


3. System Boundaries: This group identifies and defines avoided impacts/benefits and includes CO2 uptakes within system boundaries. Properly setting these boundaries ensures that all relevant carbon flows are accounted for, providing a more accurate picture of a product’s environmental footprint.


Biogenic carbon refers to carbon that is sequestered from the atmosphere during biomass growth. This carbon is stored in various natural materials, such as trees, plants, and other forms of biomass, and accumulates in pools such as soil organic carbon. Biogenic carbon plays a critical role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, essential for mitigating climate change impacts. As a significant component of the global carbon cycle, accurately accounting for biogenic carbon in LCA is vital for understanding and managing its climate impacts.


The Biogenic Carbon Project represents a significant step towards achieving global consensus on LCA methodologies for biogenic carbon. By developing a unified approach, the project aims to provide stable and consistent information on the climate impacts of bio-based products. This will enable more informed decision-making and contribute to the broader goal of mitigating climate change.


This project’s outcomes have the potential to significantly impact how biogenic carbon is understood and managed in life cycle assessments. Stay tuned for updates on the progress of this important initiative and the contributions of our experts to this crucial global effort.

Learn more about the UNEP Life Cycle Initiative