What is Life Cycle Assessment:
The awareness for environmental issue has arisen in several industries, such as manufacturing. This awareness has led to new tools for assessment of environmental impact throughout the whole product lifecycle. Achieving sustainable development requires review, measurement and analysis of the product throughout every step in the product lifecycle.
One tool that can be helpful for achieving a systematic assessment of the environmental impacts is the Life Cycle Assessment tool (LCA). This assessment is a quantitative evaluation of the product’s ecological impact of production to its end-of-life recycling. Factors to determine is, for example, carbon dioxide (Co2) and energy consumption levels.
There are several guidelines that can be useful for understanding the different steps in LCA. The ISO 14040 standard series describes the requirements, framework and principles for Life Cycle Assessment. Access the ISO 14040:2006 standard here. By using the LCA methodology decision makers in product development can apply sustainable thinking and assess the ecological impact of different alternatives.
The next steps:
Applying the Life Cycle Assessment methodology requires in-depth understanding of the principles and framework. LCA is one of many environmental management tools and determining the scope for LCA is essential as LCA can be used on product, part or process level.
In the section below, a recommended reading list is included:
- Life Cycle Introduction
- LCA in a nutshell – [Swedish]. An introduction and summary of LCA. (Översättning av Kapitel 1, LCA in a Nutshell, i Baumann, Henrikke and Tillman, Anne-Marie 2004. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to LCA. An orientation in LCA methodlogy and application, Studentlitteratur, Lund)
- LCA introduction course – PDF version of a lecture from Dartmouth University
- Review of Life Cycle Assessment towards sustainable product development. Journal Article written by Chang, Lee & Chen (2014)
- Audi Life Cycle Assessment for Audi A6
- ISO 14040:2006