Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Abiotic depletion in LCIA

Possible improvements for the assessment of abiotic depletion in LCA.

Jeroen Guinee
Road and Hydraulic Engineering Institute of the Dutch Ministry of Transport
Public Works and Water Management


In the study ‘update of characterisation factors for abiotic resources’ an inventory has been made of possible improvement options of the present baseline method to assess depletion of abiotic resources (an adapted version the baseline method advised in the new Dutch LCA Handbook) focusing on the calculation of factors for compounds (in contrast to elements). In the study special attention is given to the estimation of the size of the reserves and the potential functions of the resources. The size of the reserves depends on what is considered to be technically and economically feasible. A distinction is made between reserve ultimate (resources in the earth crust), reserve base (resources that have a reasonable potential for becoming economically and technically available) and reserve (part of the reserve base which could be economically extracted or produced at the time of determination). After one or more industrial transformation steps, abiotic resources fulfil various valuable functions for man kind. These functions are the reason for their extraction and they may be delivered by elements, by compounds (that is a specific chemical and/or physical composition of elements), or by a physical appearance independent of elements or compounds.


  • Report (422 kB)
  • ADP's (341kB) Download here the spreadsheet with additional abiotic depletion potentials (ADPs) using other calculation equations and/or using different estimates of reserves.
  • Database (225kB) Download zipped access database, a practical tool for calculating new ADPs for composite resources.


The report has been published by the Road and Hydraulic Engineering Institute of the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management (V&W).

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