PGMs in the life cycle

Assessing the Life Cycle of Platinum Group Metals

The PGM industry is curently conducting its third Life Cycle Assessment, on 2022 production data, with the participation of 10 out of 12 members. We expect results to be available in Q2-Q3/2024. The study is performed on the primary production of platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium and iridium, and the secondary production of platinum, palladium, rhodium and ruthenium. 

In 2018, the PGM  industry has conducted a second industry-wide LCA based on 2017 production data and adapted to new reporting requirements. The study was reviewed according to ISO 14040 (2006) & 14044 (2006) and ISO/TS 14071 (2014) by and independent technical expert. The LCA has been conducted on platinum, palladium, and rhodium, since these are the most relevant metals for application in catalytic converters, an application accounting for over 70% of demand in 2021. Data coverage has been expanded to primary ruthenium and iridium in 2022. This led to an update of the data on Pt, Pd and Rh, with 2022 updated upstream data from the LCA for Experts (formerly GaBi) database. The data is available in the LCA for Experts professional database or upon request from IPA (see LCA questionnaire).

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions document for further information: FAQs.

The results ouf our second LCA are presented in the new Environmental Profile of PGMs and the LCA Fact Sheet, which have both been updated with 2022 upstream data information from the LCA for Experts (GaBi) database. 

Eleven out of twelve IPA members took part in the study, representing the primary producers of PGMs (95% representation), the secondary producers of PGMs (>70%) as well as the fabricators of autocatalysts (90% representation). Hence, the LCA study offers a remarkably high representation of the global platinum group metals production, with a high geographical and technological coverage.

The IPA LCA followed the "cradle-to-gate" approach which covers processes within the life cycle of the product from the extraction of the raw materials to the finished product.

The separate applicaton study on autocatalyst production covers Euro-6d-TEMP modelled diesel and gasoline vehicles with an average lifetime of 160,000 km.