Life Cycle Assessment

What is the carbon footprint of PGMs?

The PGM industry, under the umbrella of the IPA, conducts life cycle assessments (LCA) on a regular basis and has generated and made available industry average data on the production and recycling of its metals to help industry and stakeholders to assess and understand the life-cycle and environmental impacts of our materials and products.

The carbon footprint of primary produced PGMs has been assessed for platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium and iridium, based on the 2017 production year and using 2022 upstream data from the GaBi database.

IPA Guidance Document on the Calculation of the Carbon Footprint of primary PGMs

The IPA has published a guidance document on how to calculate the carbon footprint of primary (mined) Platinum Group Metals.

"The Carbon Footprint of Platinum Group Metals" provides stakeholders involved in the PGM value chain with background information and technical guidance on what the industry perceives as best practice approach regarding the measurement of GHG emissions of refined PGMs.

It complements the LCA publications that are made available on the website, and the industry-average life cycle asssessment data that LCA practictioners can source from the IPA or through the GaBi/LCA for Experts database.

The methodology explained in the document has been applied throughout two industry wide IPA studies, and is also being applied in our recent update on 2022 production (to be released in 2024).

Third IPA LCA Study commenced in April 2023

In April 2023, the IPA kicked off its third industry wide LCA on platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium and ruthenium, for primary and secondary production. Results will presumably be available in Q2/2024.

Second IPA LCA Study (2017 data)

In 2020, the PGM industry conducted a second industry-wide Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) based on 2017 production data and adapting to new reporting requirements. The study was reviewed according to ISO 14040 (2006) & 14044 (2006) and ISO/TS 14071 (2014) by an independent technical expert. The LCA has been conducted on primary and secondary (recycling) production of platinum, palladium, and rhodium, since these are the most relevant metals used in catalytic converters.

In 2022, we have updated our data set with new upstream data (energy etc.) from the GaBi database, reflecting changes in the electricity grid and other areas. There have also been some modifications to the secondary (recycling) data as more pre-processing data could be included and a more realistic approach to waste stream calculations has been adopted.

New: LCA data on Iridium and Ruthenium

The IPA membership has undertaken a first industry wide life-cycle assessment of primary produced iridium and ruthenium, based on the data submitted during the second LCA (2017). Reliable data on iridium appear of particular relevance to us given the rapid development towards a hydrogen economy in the EU, and the upscaling of hydrogen projects based on large-scale water electrolysis. 

The LCA Fact Sheet on Iridium and Ruthenium with updated data on Pt, Pd, Rh, can be downloaded here.

 

For access to iridium and ruthenium data please use our LCA Data Questionnaire or get in touch with Tania Bossi at tania.bossi(at)ipa-news.com.

Updated results for primary production of 5 PGMs with 2022 upstream data are shared in the table below:

LCIA 2017 all 5 PGMs Primary ProductionThe LCA Fact Sheet 2017 can be downloaded hereMore information on the second LCA study can be found under PGMs in the Life Cycle.