Life Cycle Assessment
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) shows the environmental impact of a product or organization throughout its entire life cycle. An LCA is used to break down different inputs and outputs at each stage of a product’s life cycle – from raw material extraction, producing and using a product, transport, and finally disposal or re-use. This beginning to end approach is called “cradle-to-grave” and measures impacts according to several categories. These include greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water consumption, toxicological risk, and ozone layer depletion. In order to make LCAs transparent and comparable, they follow certain standards including the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044.
LCA Standards: ISO 14040 and ISO 14044
The standards for producing LCA are the ISO 14040 (which covered principles and frameworks) and ISO 14044 (which covered requirements and guidelines). In order for an LCA to be verified, the results are reviewed by a neutral third party. This way, the results can be compared to other studies and can be relied to show an accurate picture of environmental impact. It is these standards, the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 that ensure this kind of compliance. Since the standards make the LCA results so reliable, businesses confidently factor in the information for setting energy efficiency or emission reduction targets.
Usefulness of Life Cycle Assessment
Consumers and governments are demanding higher attention to resource efficiency and social responsibility. Therefore, it can be very advantageous for businesses to measure and market the environmental impacts of their products and services.
An LCA is a great tool for identifying “hot spots” for efficient investments along a supply chain. For instance, materials that are particularly impactful to the environment, or use a high amount of energy, can be clearly seen in the LCA results. This information is then used to select more efficient alternatives, resulting in direct or long-term cost savings.
It is becoming more important to understand the life cycle impact of products and services in order to improve efficiencies and set impact reduction goals. LCA is a critical part of any sustainability strategy and supports a variety of calculations including:
- Carbon Footprint (CF)
- Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
- Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)
- Eco-efficiency Analysis (EEA)
At Ecomatters, we have a long history in the field of Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) and conducting assessments. We focus on determining the methodologies that fit your needs best and can help you with the preparation of product claims and environmental product sheets. We follow the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 guidelines and are proficient with the various types of assessment software (GaBi & SimaPro).
LCA is a critical step in the development of a solid sustainability strategy, and Ecomatters can help you along the way. Check out our wide range of sustainability services or get in contact with us to see how we can help you develop effective sustainable strategies for your business.
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