Life Cycle Assessment
A life cycle assessment (LCA) is used to identify the environmental risks of existing and planned products, services and manufacturing processes as well as identify strategic improvement opportunities.
The LCA tool analyses the impact of the energy used, release of toxic substances, natural resource use, etc. involved in all life cycle stages of a product (from the extraction of raw materials needed to produced it until it is no longer used and thrown away or recycled).
There are several more or less advanced versions of LCA tools. Which one to use depends on how complicated the product is and how the results will be used. If the analysis is only to be used to give an indication of where and what the greatest environmental impact is, use a simpler method such as Eco Indicator 99, Eco Scan 3.0 or Eco-IT.
If the results are to be used as a basis for marketing or certification, however, the product should undergo a thorough analysis (SimaPro ®), which is a bit more complicated and requires some prior software knowledge.
Some free LCA tools for beginners
- OpenLCA – an open source Life Cycle Assessment software
- The LCA Calculator – Instant carbon footprint software for a sustainable design solution
- SimaPro® is a LCA software used to perform comprehensive life cycle analyzes of products, services and manufacturing processes
Calculate your ecological footprint