Environmental impacts of products in China

Yi Yang, Sangwon Suh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


As the Chinese economy has become an integral part of the global supply chain, quantifying the environmental impacts by Chinese industry is indispensible to understanding the environmental performance of products in general. Comprehensive and consistent environmental data infrastructure, however, is lacking in China, hindering such an understanding. In this paper, we demonstrate a simplified method for assembling and harmonizing various data sources to develop a sectoral environmental database for input-output life cycle assessment (IO-LCA). We first identified key substances by analyzing previous normalization studies and other countries' sectoral environmental databases. Data for priority substances were compiled and then adjusted and validated. The database created from this process was then used to analyze the direct and indirect environmental impacts generated by Chinese rural and urban consumptions. Expenditures on food and other basic household needs like heating and cooking were found to play a dominant role in generating environmental impacts in China, while previous studies of industrialized countries also highlighted the importance of transportation. This database provides background information for LCA through, for example, the hybrid approach, and is also conducive to ongoing efforts to develop generic life cycle inventory databases in China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4102-4109
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


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