Life Cycle Assessment of Cigarettes

Posted by Blondin Florent
Full LCA not available on the web
Publication year: 
Food, Plants
Quality and sources
Is the study a: 
Detailed LCA
Was a critical review performed?: 
Is the study compliant with ISO 14044?: 
Troy Hawkins
Janet Mosley
Practitioner(s) type: 
Functional unit: 
Smoke 1 cigarette

In 2016, 258 billion cigarettes were sold in the United States (Maxwell 2017). While the human health effects of cigarette use have been heavily studied, the life cycle environmental effects of cigarettes have not received much attention. Here we present LCA results for the life cycle of a typical U.S. tobacco cigarette including consideration of the full suite of impact categories included in the Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and Environmental Impacts (TRACI) (Bare 2012).
We created original foreground unit processes for U.S. tobacco production, cigarette manufacturing, cigarette distribution and retail sale, use, and end of life. Ecoinvent 3.3 and modified versions of Ecoinvent data were used to represent supply chains and a unit process version of EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM) was adapted to represent end of life emissions (ICF 2016). Foreground data were parameterized for sensitivity analysis and Monte Carlo analysis (MCA).
Results are presented for midpoint impacts and include analysis of contributions from life cycle stages, supply chain processes, and individual pollutants. To aid in understanding the relative importance of different midpoint impacts, two approaches are presented: (1) impacts are expressed as monetary values and (2) impacts are expressed as unitless ratios by normalizing to U.S. totals. We also performed sensitivity analysis to explore the relative significance of variability in key parameters and use Monte Carlo analysis to understand the probability distributions of results. This study provides a baseline for understanding contributions to the life cycle environmental impacts of cigarettes and could be used to understand the potential environmental effects of changes in cigarette designs or initiatives to mitigate environmental impacts along cigarette supply chains.


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