Total cost as suitable indicator in realization of more sustainable product life cycles regarding utilization of natural abiotic resources

Bo Thore Carlsson


A total cost accounting approach was used to analyse the suitability of copper and aluminium as winding material for transformers with respect to sustainability, using available data from the Ecoinvent database. It could be concluded that repeated recycling of metal is a necessary requisite to obtain product element life cycles exhibiting a high degree of sustainability. Using cost data for energy and materials and reasonable assumptions about costs for labour and interest for the metal supplier and the product manufacturer, the copper alternative turns out to be the better choice, especially when the expected increase in the prices of energy, copper, and aluminium during life cycle is taken into account.

From the study it could be concluded that the total cost accounting approach would be a valuable tool for assessing the degree of sustainability of a product life cycle, in particular, regarding use of natural abiotic resources such as metals.

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Journal of Sustainable Development   ISSN 1913-9063 (Print)   ISSN 1913-9071 (Online) Email:

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