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Workshop: NeurIPS 2023 Workshop on Tackling Climate Change with Machine Learning: Blending New and Existing Knowledge Systems

Flamingo: Environmental Impact Factor Matching for Life Cycle Assessment with Zero-Shot ML

Bharathan Balaji · Venkata Sai Gargeya Vunnava · Nina Domingo · Shikhar Gupta · Harsh Gupta · Geoffrey Guest · Aravind Srinivasan · Kellen Axten · Jared Kramer


Consumer products contribute to >75% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, primarily through indirect contributions from the supply chain. Measurement of GHG emissions associated with products is crucial to quantify the impact of GHG emission abatement actions. Life cycle assessment (LCA), the scientific discipline for measuring GHG emissions, estimates the environmental impact of a product. Scaling LCA to millions of products is challenging as it requires extensive manual analysis by domain experts. To avoid repetitive analysis, environmental impact factors (EIF) of common materials and products are published for use by experts. However, finding appropriate EIFs for even a single product can require hundreds of hours of manual work, especially for complex products. We present Flamingo, an algorithm that leverages neural language models to automatically identify an appropriate EIF given a text description. A key challenge in automation is that EIF databases are incomplete. Flamingo uses industry sector classification as an intermediate layer to identify when there are no good matches in the database. On a dataset of 664 products, Flamingo achieves an EIF matching precision of 75%.

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