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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a widely known and well-established methodology for transparent and credible environmental accounting. As such, the LCA process is regarded as a valuable tool among different stakeholders including companies to quantify the environmental impact of their products and services throughout its entire life cycle.

Conducting an LCA includes a number of key steps. The length and depth of each step depends on the detail and accuracy of the required LCA results. In practice the general approach when carrying out an LCA can be categorized in 5 steps.


The needs and the reasons to perform the LCA are stated to define the goal and scope of the study. Scoping includes understanding to which audience the LCA results are targeted, as well as what their intended use is. In addition, the products under scope, level of detail, life cycle stages, and impacts to be included are defined in this first stage.

Data collection

Based on the defined goal and scope of the LCA study and following a preliminary description of the product value chain, data collection is necessary to create the life cycle model. In this step the collection of all inputs and outputs (materials, energy, emissions, etc.) from all the life cycle stages included in the production system takes place. This is known as the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI).

Data is usually collected by the commissioner of the study with the support of the practitioners. A data questionnaire is prepared with all the necessary data items to be collected. Depending on the goal and scope of the project, data collection usually includes product manufacturing (raw materials, product characteristics, utilities, waste, etc.), logistics (modes and distances), and product use and disposal.

Product life cycle modelling

Based on the scope and system boundaries, and using the data items collected, the model the product value chain(s) is created. The practitioner processes the data, completes and fills the data inputs in the model, and conducts the life cycle assessment. Third party databases are used to model parts of the system outside the control of the commissioner, such as the production of raw materials, supply of energy, and end-of-life treatment.

Results and interpretation

The model is constructed in a specific LCA software (GaBi, SimaPro), which also translates the inputs and outputs to indicators of actual environmental impacts (i.e. climate change, eutrophication potential etc). The results of the study include the product footprint for all selected impact categories, but also disaggregated results per life cycle stage, manufacturing process, and activity. During this step the interpretation of the results also takes place, leading to the identification of environmental issues through the value chain as well as making conclusions and recommendations according to the goal and scope of the project.

Interpretation and results sharing

The results and outcome of the LCA are discussed together with the commissioners, and are applied and used to support decision making processes. The results of an LCA can be used in many different ways. For example:

  • Product improvement, design and development
  • Product comparisons
  • Communication and marketing
  • Strategy and policy development

Overall, LCA supports and enhances the sustainability strategy of an organisation by contributing with credible metrics to show how it is developing and improving its sustainability product portfolio.


If you have any questions, or if you want to know more; let us know!


This page is a part of the eCircular tool. The results of the tool consist of different scenarios. If you want to go back to your previous scenario or any of the other scenarios, you can find the 7 models below.

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