Evaluating Sustainable Product Alternatives by Combining Life Cycle Assessment with Full-cost Accounting: A Highway Guardrail Case Study

Adam A. Scouse, Stephen S. Kelley, Richard A. Venditti, T. Eric McConnell


Full-cost accounting techniques incorporate the environmental and societal burdens a product generates through its manufacture, use, and disposal into that product’s price. This research generates full-cost prices for functionally equivalent chromated copper arsenate (CCA) treated wood and galvanized steel guardrail posts by combining previously conducted life cycle inventory analyses results with secondary emission valuation data. Based on the analysis, both CCA-treated posts and galvanized steel posts have environmental damage costs associated with emissions generated through the product’s manufacturing, use, and disposal stages. After developing full-cost prices for product alternatives, CCA-treated wood guardrail posts were found to be a more economical and environmentally responsible alternative to galvanized steel. In addition to generating full-cost prices, this research uses Monte Carlo simulation to provide estimates of variability around CCA-treated wood and galvanized steel damage costs.


Emission valuation; Environmental full-cost accounting; Impact pathway approach; Life cycle assessment; Shadow pricing

Full Text:


Welcome to BioResources! This online, peer-reviewed journal is devoted to the science and engineering of biomaterials and chemicals from lignocellulosic sources for new end uses and new capabilities. The editors of BioResources would be very happy to assist you during the process of submitting or reviewing articles. Please note that logging in is required in order to submit or review articles. Martin A. Hubbe, (919) 513-3022, hubbe@ncsu.edu; Lucian A. Lucia, (919) 515-7707, lucia-bioresources@ncsu.edu URLs: bioresourcesjournal.com; http://ncsu.edu/bioresources ISSN: 1930-2126