The methodology of the research process to explore and describe different policy options is presented below. It comprises the identification of various policy options including prioritization and the identification and description of characteristics of the prioritized policy options, including e.g. technical requirements as well as potential strengths, opportunities, and threats.

Identification of Policy Options

To identify the policy options, the authors chose both a theoretical and practical approach. In the theoretical approach, they used four different structural elements, which were combined to develop policy options. In the practical approach, they

Table 15.1 Structural elements to define policy options, their features and description

Structural elements

Features of policy option

Description of the policy option features

Type of enforcement


Policy is legally binding; defined requirements (e.g. limit/target values) have to be fulfilled


Policy is not legally binding, but intends to have indirect effects



Policy defines product requirements; if they are not met, product needs to be re-designed


Policy defines requirements on company level for process improvement

Use of LCA

Direct (full LCA)

Policy directly defines LC based limit/target values and/or requires communication of full LCA results

Indirect (LCT)

“Backoffice” use of LCA or LCA data during policy development such as target value setting processes

Market role

Market access

Policy provides minimum requirements (threshold values) for products to be able to enter the market

Market incentive

Policy provides framework (e.g. criteria) for promoting environmentally preferred products

analyzed existing legislations, which are related to CO2 and/or have implemented LCT, i.e., include an LC perspective. A first focus was put on Europe (EU).

The structural elements are summarized in Table 15.1 and describe individual features of possible policy options. The features reflect different types of enforcement (mandatory or voluntary), different levers (on a processor a product level), different stringencies on the use of LCA (consideration of full LCA or LCT) and different market roles (access or incentive). The policy options defined based on the structural elements as well as theoretical and practical examples (where available) are presented in Sect. 3.

Regarding the market role of policy options: “market access” is used to exclude products (and services or processes) that have a low performance, e.g. environmental performance – from the market (typically ca. 10–20 % of products). An example of how to implement this market role is the Conformité Européenne (CE)-mark (EC 2015). “Market incentive” usually aims at promoting the 10–20 % “best in class” products (and services or processes). It can for example promote environmentally friendly products by using the Eco label type I (ISO 14024 1999) labelling system in the market. Therefore the majority of products (ca. 70–80 %) are set in between these two market roles.[1] General effects of “market access” and “market incentive” policy options on the share of environmentally preferred products on the market are shown in Fig. 15.1.

After having identified various policy options, they were prioritized based on three criteria, namely rigor of implementation (referring to the type of enforcement

Fig. 15.1 Effects of “market access” and “market incentive” policy options on the share of environmentally preferred products on the market

and to the levers), rigor of LCA (referring to the extent of LCA use) and stakeholder acceptance (referring to an assumed acceptance or willingness of stakeholders for LC implementation). The prioritized policy options were subject of further detailed analyses, described in the following section.

Identification and Description of Characteristics of the Policy Options

Characteristics here refer to technical requirements for policy implementation. These requirements also determine (though not solely) further characteristics of the policy options like applicability (easiness) or acceptance and thus are relevant to identify for example potential strengths or threats of the particular options.

For this work, the authors specified six technical requirements, namely methodology, models, data, tools, quality assurance and communication and described them for the prioritized policy options. Based on this, they further analyzed the options using a SWOT[2] analysis to reveal their potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This analysis was complemented by the RACER[3] analysis, which originates from the European Commission's Impact Assessment Guidelines (EC 2009) to assess the value of scientific tools for use in policy making based on the criteria relevance, acceptance, credibility, easiness and robustness. For both the SWOT and the RACER analysis different stakeholder perspectives were considered obtained from stakeholder meetings with policy makers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), material industries and academia in Europe and beyond (in the USA, Japan and China).

  • [1] These two roles can be implemented by several policy tools e.g. type approval, limit values, permits, labels, taxes, subsidies, and procurement rules (e.g., Green Public Procurement (GPP)
  • [2] SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
  • [3] RACER: relevance, acceptance, credibility, easiness, robustness
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