What is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) ?

What is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) ?

Life cycle assessment (LCA) has started back in the day and in the next few years, it evolved from an activity that only academics and intellectuals talked about, to a mainstream practice that created the efficiency of the modern industry.

However, people are still confused when it comes to LCA because they cannot differentiate what is good, what is bad, and in which direction the entire assessment should be.

Therefore, you should follow our guide so that you can determine the best way to understand this particular term and field.

So, what is the life cycle assessment?

Industrial Ecology Uses LCA as Tool

You should have in mind that the main goal of industrial ecology is to redefine the idea of a global economy to avoid open-loop systems.

The idea between open-loop systems includes the flow of materials in which resources are extracted, as well as how they produce and use goods, as dispose of waste products afterward.

They are choosing closed-loop models, in which the goal is to mimic nature and to find ways to remove excessive waste from one product to create raw material for another, which includes recycling perspective that will help the environment that surrounds you.

LCA includes the process between creation to disposal and it accounts the numerous environmental impacts of both services and products.

If you wish to perform life cycle assessment, you need to combine all energy and material inputs that you need for production, use as well as disposal of the product you are making.

At the same time, you have to summarize all outputs such as waste, materials, emissions; water and air, from each phase, and interpret the results by including terms on impacts on ecosystems quality, human health, and resource depletion.

The Main Goal of LCA Is To Determine the Impact of Consumer Products

Even though you can use LCA for numerous things that surround you, consumer products have been a significant target for most practitioners.

The main reason for that is because it seems likely that consumer demand will affect the perspective of eco-friendly products that surround us. We can consider numerous ways to do it by determining how consumer products are affecting the environment around us.

Therefore, the rise and increase of carbon footprints is an important consideration because that way you will be able to understand what you should do so that you can protect the environment.

We can consider numerous life cycle assessments that can affect and create an environmental impact of products that we tend to use.

One of the biggest methods is carbon footprint that each product is making, which is an LCA that has a focus on climate changes and how products are affecting the environment.

Since this particular process of determining carbon footprint percentage, it means that supply chain carbon, which includes emissions that happen outside the direct control of the company that sells the product, includes the largest percentage of emissions that are associated with products that we tend to purchase on daily basis.

You Need To Understand "What" And "Why"?

In case you are performing an LCA, you should determine whether it is intended only for inside you or so that you can improve your product in general. In case you wish to go public with findings that you have made, that will create an environmental claim.

Therefore, you should evaluate an entire product line, which means that it will help you along the way to determine whether your products are affecting ecology or not.

At the same time, you will be able to learn how to answer "what and why" in your study, or find goal and scope so that you can start with efficiency.

Everything Depends On Data

Have in mind that if you wish to perform a life cycle assessment, you will need plenty of data.

At the same time, some of the data is simple to use and understand, as well as come by such as the amount of energy that every single manufacturing plant features as well as other information that will help you along the way.

On the other hand, some other information is highly challenging to obtain, and the common example includes the materials that you have used in products, such as plastic packaging that you have purchased overseas.

You do not have to worry, because you can find databases that will provide you information on common materials and everything that you will need from them.

At the same time, some of the databases are free, while others you have to pay and they tend to vary based on quality and precision.

Even though there are global efforts to improve the overall data by providing perfect LCA, you will be able to look forward with the results so that you can improve your business and reduce the emissions and other factors that you are doing to environment that surrounds us.

The Life Cycle Inventory

The life cycle assessment starts with modeling and data collection, which includes the entire life cycle of inventory by using terms that are relevant.

This is highly easier in case that you decide to draw a map of product's life cycle, by using box flow diagram as well as other outputs and inputs that will help you draw entire supply chain.

As soon as you sketch everything out, the LCI will become a matter of filling and acquiring data at each step that you wish to make.

Therefore, an LCI is a balance sheet that contains all energy and material inputs as well as emission outputs that you should know when it comes to the product's life cycle.

As soon as you compile LCI, both outputs and inputs will explain the effects of your product life cycle on the key environmental categories such as ecosystem quality, usual suspects on human health as well as resource depletion.

The LCA is used by decision-makers so that they can make choices that will reduce the environmental impacts and effects based on the production of specific products.

Therefore, LCI will tell you how many grams of a wide array of gases are emitted during the life cycle of some product.