A critical review of the life cycle assessment studies on road pavements and road infrastructures

Yash Aryan, Anil Kumar Dikshit, Amar Mohan Shinde

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, there has been a sharp rise in the number of life cycle assessment (LCA) studies related to road pavements and road infrastructures. The main aim of this study is to perform a critical analysis of various studies undertaken so far to examine goals, scopes, impact categories, life cycle phases, methods and approaches, and limitations. A total of 67 LCA studies reported in literature were analysed and categorized into four categories viz. flexible pavement; rigid pavement; flexible and rigid pavement; and road infrastructure. The analysis revealed that 80% of the studies were carried out in developed countries while just 20% of studies were from developing countries. Most of the road pavement LCA studies (∼76%) considered material and construction phase and assessed the impacts in terms of only two impact categories viz. global warming potential and energy demand. Only 10–15% of studies considered a wide range of impact categories and used commercial software such as GaBi and SimaPro for impact assessment. 19 studies were on flexible pavements, 4 on rigid pavements, 30 on both flexible and rigid pavements and 14 on infrastructure. Bridges, tunnels, drainage, lighting, and road marking were the major components of road infrastructure studied while other road infrastructures such as culverts, toll plazas, and vehicle underpasses were not included. Majority of the studies depended on secondary or background data for the development of life cycle inventory. Out of 67 studies, only 18 studies performed the sensitivity analysis while only 6 studies carried out uncertainty analysis. There is a need for inclusion of all supporting infrastructures along with road pavement, and also for paying greater attention to sensitivity and uncertainty analysis in studies pertaining to the transportation sector. During construction phase, no LCA study considered the important impacts due deforestation, defragmentation, restriction of free wildlife movement etc. Hence, future LCA road studies must evaluate the negative consequences of these as well as integrate social and economic impacts via Multi-Criteria Decision Making to make LCA a robust decision-making tool for sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117697
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 15-06-2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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