Life Cycle Assessment

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a technique to assess the environmental aspects and the full range of potential environmental impacts associated with a product, process, or service:

  • By compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental releases
  • By evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with identified inputs and releases
  • By interpreting the results to help an organization make a more informed decision

The main goal of LCA is to compare the environmental performance of products and services throughout their life cycle and be able to choose the least burdensome one. It also can be used to enhance the environmental friendliness of a single product (eco-design) or to improve the overall environmental performance and public image of an organization ( Thus, LCA is useful for preventing pollution and assessing the long-term impact of green product design by helping its users develop environmental profiles of proposed environmental initiatives and green product/service design (e.g., renewable versus petro-chemical materials). LCA is also helpful for identifying areas where environmental improvements can be made.

LCA is typically composed of three interrelated components: a life cycle inventory analysis, a life cycle impact analysis, and a life cycle improvement analysis. The details of these components are described as:

  • Life cycle inventory—An objective, data-based process of quantifying energy and raw material requirements, air emissions, waterborne effluents, solid waste, and other environmental releases incurred throughout the life cycle of a product, process, or activity.
  • Life cycle impact assessment—An evaluative process of assessing the effects of the environmental findings identified in the inventory component. The impact assessment should address both ecological and human health impacts, as well as social, cultural, and economic impacts.
  • Life cycle improvement analysis—An analysis of opportunities to reduce or mitigate the environmental impact throughout the whole life cycle of a product, process, or activity. This analysis may include both quantitative and qualitative measures of improvement, such as changes in product design, raw material usage, industrial processes, consumer use, and waste management.
Green Supply Chain Management
Reverse Logistics

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