Life Cycle Assessment

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) determines the environmental impacts of products, processes or services, through production, usage, and disposal. It is a systematic set of procedures for compiling and examining the inputs and outputs of materials and energy and the associated environmental impacts directly attributable to the functioning of a product or service system throughout its life cycle. (Source: Global Development Research Centre)

The impacts of all life cycle stages need to be considered comprehensively by the citizens, the companies and the governments, when they make decisions on consumption and production patterns, policies and management strategies. The image below demonstrates the ‘Inputs’ of labour, energy and materials into each stage of a production process. Plus the ‘Outputs’ of emissions: waste of all types including air pollutants (CO2, methane, etc.) 

Before jumping into any LCA, it is critical to develop what is called Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) which goes beyond the traditional focus of a production site and manufacturing processes to include circular systems,  environmental, social and economic impacts of a product over its entire life cycle.

The main goals of LCT are to reduce a product’s resource use and emissions to the environment as well as improve its socio-economic performance through its life cycle. This may facilitate links between the economic, social and environmental dimensions within an organization and through its entire value chain.

(Source: Image and text: Life-Cycle Initiative by the UN Environment Program)

Knowledge Centre

This section includes reports on history, (1) Life Cycle Assessment (2) Life Cycle Cost, (3) Life Cycle Management, (4) Life Cycle Thinking, Product Carbon Footprint, Reports, UN Life Cycle Management Presentation, Water Footprint plus some interesting case studies, images and infographics.