Life Cycle Inventories (LCI) unlocked! 

Last February, after months of hard work, FER-PLAY released comprehensive Life Cycle Inventories (LCI) for seven selected value chains of circular fertilisers: bio-waste (food waste and green compost); solid fraction of digestate; feather meal; spent mushroom substrate; stabilised sludge; struvite from urban wastewater; and struvite from industrial wastewater. 

What are Life Cycle Assessments and Life Cycle Inventories (LCI)? 

To understand a Life Cycle Inventory, it’s important first to grasp the basics of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). LCA is a structured, comprehensive, and internationally standardised method for quantifying all relevant emissions, resources consumed, environmental and health impacts, and resource depletion, associated with the production of any goods or services (“products”). Established under ISO guidelines 14040 and 14044 (ISO, 2006b, 2006a), LCA consists of four iterative steps: 1) goal and scope definition; 2) inventory analysis; 3) impact assessment; and 4) interpretation. The inventory analysis (Step 2) is crucial as it gathers all the information regarding the product and processes under analysis. Both the reliability of LCA and its results highly depend on the quality and accuracy of the inventory data, which should present actual information on the processes or products under analysis. Ideally LCI are built on primary data sources, i.e. information gathered directly from the manufacturer of a particular product.

Framework for Life Cycle Assessment

What has been done? 

FER-PLAY’s LCIs include data on the value-chains for the seven fertilisers, spanning from the generation of the secondary raw material, the transformation into the final alternative/circular fertiliser, up to the fertiliser arrival at the farm’s gate and its application on soil. Want to know more? Check out our poster

The data quality has been systematically analysed to ensure the use of the best available information. More than one hundred external sources have been consulted during the data compilation. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time such inventories have been assembled for so many circular fertilisers. Most of the gathered information originates directly from either our stakeholders or from companies employing the selected secondary raw materials. 

Why is LCI so important? 

Developing a high quality and representative LCI is crucial for the reliability of LCAs and any other assessment. To ensure the representativity of these LCAs across European territories, FER-PLAY has prepared three LCIs for each value chain, referring to three different European regions, as depicted below. This approach shows more geographically tailored results, helping stakeholders to identify the best available option in their respective country. 

FER-PLAY regional LCIs

So, what’s next? 

Next steps will focus on conducting LCAs and other assessments, like Life Cycle Cost (LCC) and social-LCAs, to compare the performances of FER-PLAY circular fertilizers against conventional ones, which will be selected as baseline. These comprehensive multi assessment for each value chain will also include a regulatory assessment and an assessment on conditions for industrialisation. Results will be available to the public in fall 2024, so stay tuned!  Additionally, FER-PLAY will examine the quality of the gathered information according to results of the assessment, to better evaluate the robustness of our findings. The FER-PLAY team will share all results with end-users, fertilisers producers, and policy makers, to show the benefits of using circular fertilisers and their contribution to a more sustainable European economy! 


ISO. (2006a). Environmental management — Life cycle assessment — Requirements and guidelines (ISO 14044:2006).

ISO. (2006b). Environmental management–life cycle assessment–principles and framework (ISO-14040:2006).

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