A special view on the nature of the allocation problem
One of the remaining important problems of life cycle inventory analysis is the allocation problem. A proper solution of this problem calls for a proper understanding of the nature of the problem itself. This paper argues that the established definition of the allocation problem as the fact that one unit process produces more than one function, is not appropriate. That definition points to an important reason of the occurrence of the problem, but the situation of internal (closed-loop) recycling already indicates that there may be product systems which contain multifunction processes, but which nevertheless need not exhibit an allocation problem. The paper proceeds by examining a number of simple hypothetical cases, and proposes a precise and operational definition of the allocation problem. This enables a systematic categorization of approaches for dealing with the allocation problem.