Life Cycle Assessment

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click the icon to listen to a podcast interview with Andrew Keenan and Eric Taub explaining the LCA process. Hosted by Paula Collins of Our Green Value.

If your business is serious about measuring the environmental impact
of your products and services, you need an LCA.

What is a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)?
According to ISO 14040, an LCA is defined as the “...compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle.” In other words, it is the measurement of environmental impacts that are generated in the manufacture (and sometimes use) of a product. Thus, an LCA is a tool to manage the environmental burden of products at all stages in their life cycle—from the extraction of resources, through the production of materials, product parts and the product itself. An LCA can analyze a product from cradle to gate, cradle-to-grave, or ideally, cradle to cradle.

The environmental impacts can include:  global warming potential, smog, eutrophication, water use, eco-toxicological and human toxicological pollutants, ozone layer depletion, and depletion of minerals and fossil fuels.

An LCA that focuses on greenhouse gas measures Scope 1, Scope 2 and specific Scope 3 emissions.

Scope 1 2 3 Emission Sources

 

Why Perform a Life Cycle Assessment?
An LCA of a company’s product line supports many different areas, including:

Marketing—Does your product have less impact than others?

Greening Supply Chain—Which material has the least impact? How does your product affect your customers?

Design—What should you change to make your product more environmentally friendly? Benchmarking across an industry or across divisions of a corporation—Who is best/worst; where are you?

Year-to-year tracking of environmental performance—Are you getting better or worse? Benchmarking between industries—Can your product or service accomplish the same goals with lower environmental impact?

Policy—Where should you change policy to get the biggest benefit?

Stages of a Product’s Life Cycle
Raw Materials Acquisition


The life cycle of a product begins with the removal of raw materials and energy sources from the earth. For instance, the harvesting of trees or the mining of nonrenewable materials would be considered raw materials acquisition. Transportation of these materials from the point of acquisition to the point of processing is also included in this stage.


Manufacturing
During the manufacturing stage, raw materials are transformed into a product. The product is then delivered to the consumer. The manufacturing stage consists of three steps:

Materials Manufacture—The materials manufacture step involves the activities that convert raw materials into a form that can be used to fabricate a finished product.

Product Fabrication—The product fabrication step takes the manufactured material and processes it into a product that is ready to be filled or packaged.

Packaging and Distribution—This step finalizes the products and prepares them for shipment. It includes all of the manufacturing and transportation activities that are necessary to package and distribute a finished product. Products are transported either to retail outlets or directly to the consumer. This stage accounts for the environmental impacts caused by the mode of transportation, such as trucking and shipping.

Use Phase
This stage involves the consumer’s actual use, reuse, and maintenance of the product. Once the product is distributed to the consumer, all activities associated with the useful life of the product are included in this stage. This includes energy demands and environmental wastes from both product storage and consumption. The product or material may need to be reconditioned, repaired or serviced so that it will maintain its performance. When the consumer no longer needs the product, the product will be recycled or disposed.

End of Life
The End of Life stage includes the energy requirements and environmental wastes associated with the recycling or disposal of the product.

Verus Can Help

Verus Carbon Neutral has a team of experts that can generate a complete LCA for any product or service. Our experts use the most up-to-date carbon data and state-of-the-art software. Your LCA will be conducted quickly, accurately and at an extremely competitive price.

Contact us for a quote and to learn more.

 

One metric tons of CO2 measures 27 feet high and 27 feet deep.

What Does a Metric Ton of CO2 Look Like?

If you were to build a cube to represent one metric ton of CO2, it would measure 27' high by 27' deep. A metric ton equals 2,204 pounds.