Summary

LCA is a tool to determine the environmental impacts of a product during all stages of its life cycle, from cradle to grave. LCA can also be used to track specific aspects such as the amount of energy or water used in the life cycle of a product.

In short, an LCA:

  • quantifies all inputs and outputs of material flows

  • evaluates how these flows impact on the environment

  • informs decision making on ways to minimise harmful impacts.

In Practice

Defining LCA

An LCA tracks the inputs and outputs of material flows associated with a product or service and assesses how these flows impact on the environment.

The Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry defines LCA as:

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