ecoinvent Version 3.3

ecoinvent version 3.3 was released in 2016 and expanded the coverage of the database with several hundreds of new agricultural datasets from the WFLDB.

Oct 24th, 2023

Moreover, it included important overall improvements to the database, including the addition of prices for all products, pdf documentations per dataset, the ILCD method, the CPC classification among other things. 

As we wish to ensure clarity and transparency, we openly document the changes made between the latest update and the previous version of the database. Therefore, we offer various files that document and clarify the changes that have been made with each version of the database. These include detailed the report of changes, correspondence files, as well as files that include all activities of each version. Futrher, we document all known issues of each version to alert database users and to support their understanding and use of the database.  

New and Updated Data

Large Variety of New Data 

The first part of the WFLDB being included in version 3.3 covers several hundreds of new agricultural datasets, amongst other in the fields of: 

  • vegetables (such as asparagus, carrots, onions, potatoes) 
  • fruits (such as lemons, mandarins, oranges, peaches) 
  • cereal and grain products (such as oat, rice, sweetcorn, wheat) 
  • tea 
  • coffee (such as Robusta and Arabica) 
  • sugar and confectionery (such as cocoa and vanilla) 

Distinction Between Technologies and Categories 

For many products you can choose production in different countries and using different technologies. So you can, for example, choose between strawberry production in the open field, non-heated greenhouse or even in heated greenhouse. 

Furthermore, a distinction is made between fresh grade and processing grade. 

Database Wide Updates

Prices for all Products 

In ecoinvent v3.3, price data is available for all the products (except for waste materials and their disposal) in the database. These prices were collected from literature, directly from the producers or calculated based on the input materials entering the activity. While this is a significant step towards a more consistent and reliable database, some price data are quite uncertain still. Nevertheless, these prices can be used for economic allocation, life cycle costing or when working with social LCA data. 

Improved Markets and Supply Chains 

Some sectors have had their supply chains improved with more specific, local data. The largest examples are waste treatment activities in Europe and Switzerland, and supply chains specifically in Switzerland. 

PDF Documentation of Every Dataset 

Comprehensive and easy to access documentation is vital to better understand the dataset you are working with in context. One of the major steps in ecoinvent version 3 was to include more information directly in the dataset. While software tools decide themselves how to display ecoinvent data, we now offer the dataset documentation in a pdf file for every dataset. This pdf contains both unit process information as well as some key impact assessment results, which makes the information in ecoinvent datasets more accessible for all our users.  

Relevant Documents and Files

Report of Changes

This report covers all changes made in the ecoinvent database between version 3.2 (2015) and version 3.3 (2016). It reflects both the database-wide changes, as well as the sector-specific changes. 

Report of Changes

This automatically generated excel file provides an overview of changes made on the undefined unit process datasets between versions 3.2 and 3.3 of the ecoinvent database. The Report of Changes XLS can be found in the «Files» section of ecoQuery, the online version of the ecoinvent database version 3. It is available to licensees of the ecoinvent database. 

Correspondence File 

The correspondence file is a spreadsheet that lists all datasets in versions 3.2 and 3.3 and matches corresponding datasets between versions. 

Activity Overview for ecoinvent v3.3, Undefined 

An excel file listing all the activities and products present in the ecoinvent version 3.3 database including most of the metadata (geography, ISIC classification, activity type, technology level, product type, unit, etc.). This file also includes a list of all geographies, elementary and intermediate exchanges present in the database. 

Activity Overview for ecoinvent v3.3, APOS 

An excel file listing all the activities present in the ecoinvent version 3.3 database including metadata related specifically to the Allocation at the point of substitution. 

Activity Overview for ecoinvent v3.3, Consequential 

An excel file listing all the activities present in the database including metadata related specifically to the Substitution, consequential, long-term system model. 

Activity Overview for ecoinvent v3.3, Cut-Off 

An excel file which lists all the activities present in the database including metadata related specifically to the Allocation, cut-off by classification system model. 

LCIA Methods in ecoinvent v3.3 

List of all LCIA methods including all the impact categories as well as list of selected LCI cumulative results provided by ecoinvent. 

Known Issues

This section lists all known data errors in version 3.3 of the ecoinvent database. While the ecoinvent team focuses on eliminating such errors for upcoming updates, this section of known issues exists to alert database users and to support their understanding and use of the database.

Data Issues 

  • The activity “cotton production” (GLO, US and CN) contains an error related to the electricity input. The value represents the amount in MJ, missing the conversion to kWh. The error is currently subjected to correction and will be updated for the release of ecoinvent version 3.4. 
  • The casting of aluminium seems to contain an error related to energy consumption. We are investigating this issue and will give all details, and fix it as soon as possible. 
  • The activity “sheep production, for meat” GLO was created as copy of the same activity for the geography US. When this was done the amount of reference product was recalculated but the other exchanges were left unchanged. The difference between the live weight of US versus GLO sheep is correct. It is possible to access this type of data on the faostat website, in the data section for “yield” of “livestock primary”. Nevertheless the exchanges for the GLO dataset are incorrect in relation to the reference product. Users should use the US dataset, keeping in mind that if their geography of interest is not US they should look into the validity of the exchanges for the scope of their study. 
  • The activity “natural gas production” US seems to contain some errors. We are investigating this issue and will give all details, and fix it as soon as possible. 
  • The activity “anaerobic digestion of manure” for both geographies CH and GLO are mass imbalanced. The amount of digester sludge produced is too high and it is now under correction. The excess amount of digester sludge is responsible for negative GHG emissions for electricity in certain geographies in the consequential system model. The error is currently subjected to correction and will be updated for the release of ecoinvent version 3.4. 
  • The activity “electrolysis of lithium chloride, GLO, 2006” contains an inaccurate calculation related to its electricity input. The datasets will be corrected for version 3.4 of the database based on the information reported in the source cited in the dataset. The electricity input for this type of process and technology ranges from 28 to 32 kWh per kg of lithium produced. 30 is the average of 28 and 32 kWh. Given the fact that the process yields 0.15 kg of lithium the electricity input was scaled accordingly (30 kWh per kg lithium times 0.15 kg of lithium yields 4.5 kWh). 

Comment Display Issues 

  • In the datasets with activity name “electricity production, natural gas, combined cycle power plant”, the general comment elements contain the following string of text: “[‘text’, ‘”, ending with “‘]”. The issue can be solved by removing these two character strings. 
  • Some electricity or combined heat and electricity production datasets have another general comment display problem. Comments display for example “”, which should be replaced by a string of character specified by the data provider. For a list of affected datasets and the value these character string should take, please contact us

Consequential System Model Issues 

  • Three elementary exchanges are found in the compartment “social”. These exchanges can be ignored, both at the unit process and the inventory level, as ecoinvent does not yet account for social impacts. 
  • The table below shows dataset making a demand of a product that is not supplied by the specified supplying activity. These two exchanges can be ignored. 

LCIA Method Implementation Issues 

Ecological Scarcity 2013 

  • The method calls for the characterization of the “dissipative use” of material extracted by mining operation. This means that the CFs in this impact category should be applied to amounts of taking into account that a fraction of the extracted material may be reused or recycled. The ecoinvent database does not allow to calculate easily this quantity. The scores currently calculated by ecoinvent in this category do not represent what the method intends. These scores are nevertheless useful in an LCA, but should not be used directly to support conclusion about this particular aspect of a supply chain. Rates of recycling and reuse of the material with the highest contribution to the score should be assessed before reaching any conclusion. 
  • The method calls for the characterization of the “dissipative use” of water. This is well captured by implementing the CF for evaporated water to air, and represents 100% of the dissipated water in the majority of the datasets in ecoinvent. However, water is also dissipated when it chemically reacts, for example in the case of concrete and concrete. If large quantity of cement or concrete are included in the system at hand, it is possible that the water impact score be underestimated by the implementation proposed by ecoinvent. 
  • Emissions of metal to the industrial soil should be zero, as they the method does not assume transfer to water and ingestion through other mechanism. Also, there is no legal limit of dioxins to water in the subcompartment groundwater, groundwater long term and ocean, so their CFs should have been zero. The exchanges below are currently wrongly characterised.