What is LCA?
Environment-oriented LCA is a method for mapping the impact of products and human activities on
the environment. Use is made of special calculation models. In LCA the entire life cycle of a product or
activity is examined. From the extraction of raw materials through production and (re) use up to and
including waste processing. In other words: from the cradle to the grave. Because this involves a
chain of processes, LCA is regarded as a form of chain analysis.
LCA consists of a number of steps. The most important steps are:
LCI – life cycle inventory: In this step the information is collected about the harmful substances that are emitted during the lifecycle and the raw materials that are used within the life cycle. Other environmental interventions, such as the production of noise or odor, can also form part of the LCI.
LCIA – life cycle impact assessment: In this step the inventory data (Life Cycle Inventory results) are
assessed. This creates a picture of the environmental effects for which the product or activity is
directly or indirectly responsible.
The outcome of an LCA study is an environmental profile: a sort of score list with environmental
effects. The environmental profile shows which environmental impacts play the most important role in the life cycle. These effects can then be tackled with priority. It can also be calculated in advance
whether a measure will be effective. In combination with related instruments, LCA can provide a
concrete picture of the possibilities for adjustments to business operations. The consequences of each
alternative are also systematically visualized.
Initially, LCA was developed for the assessment of products. As soon as the life cycle plays a role or an environmental profile is desired, LCA becomes interesting. You can use your LCA assessment for your Environmental Product Footprint score in the GSES System!