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Life Cycle Assessment

Life Cycle Assessment

What is Life Cycle Assessment?

Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a process which assesses the environmental impact of a product or service over its entire life cycle, from resource extraction and processing to manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, use and disposal (or re-use/recycling). It is also known as ‘Cradle-to-Grave’ Analysis or ‘Ecobalance’.

 What is a LCA good for?

Because it looks at the entire life cycle, a LCA can answer questions such as: “is it better for the environment if I buy a new car which has a cleaner burning engine or is it better to keep using my old car because the impact on the environment from the manufacture of the new car outweighs the lower emissions during its use phase”

Can LCAs be used to compare products or services?

A direct comparison can only be made, if the approach and assumptions during the preparation of the LCAs were the same. When that’s the case, they are particularly useful for comparing products or services. For example, it is possible to answer questions such as “Is an electric vehicle better for the environment than a hybrid or a conventional car or does the environmental impact of the battery outweigh the benefits?” Even if they cannot be compared directly, LCAs still offer a lot of useful information about different products.

 Who needs LCAs?

You need them if you really want to understand the true impact of different products or services. And vendors of a product or service need them to understand where the greatest impact on the environment is so that they can target these areas. Also, manufacturers need then if they want to create an EPD for a product or service.

I don’t like reading long, technical documents…

You’re no alone! And that’s where envormation comes in: we help you by…:

  • summarising the key results of LCAs
  • suggesting simple steps you can take to reduce your impact on the environment, based on the outcome of the LCAs
  • provide you with links to the full LCAs in case you’ve changed your mind and you want to read all the technical detail after all

More on LCAs for example at wikipedia.

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