What is LIFE-CYCLE ASSESSMENT? What does LIFE-CYCLE ASSESSMENT mean? LIFE-CYCLE ASSESSMENT meaning - LIFE-CYCLE ASSESSMENT definition - LIFE-CYCLE ASSESSMENT explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
Life-cycle assessment (LCA, also known as life-cycle analysis, ecobalance, and cradle-to-grave analysis) is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's life from cradle to grave (i.e., from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling). Designers use this process to help critique their products. LCAs can help avoid a narrow outlook on environmental concerns by:
- Compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental releases;
- Evaluating the potential impacts associated with identified inputs and releases;
- Interpreting the results to help make a more informed decision.
The goal of LCA is to compare the full range of environmental effects assignable to products and services by quantifying all inputs and outputs of material flows and assessing how these material flows affect the environment. This information is used to improve processes, support policy and provide a sound basis for informed decisions.
Life Cycle Assessment A systematic set of procedures for compiling and examining the inputs and outputs of materials, energy and the associated environmental impacts directly attributable to the functioning of a product or service system throughout its life cycle.
The term life cycle refers to the notion that a fair, holistic assessment requires the assessment of raw-material production, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal including all intervening transportation steps necessary or caused by the product's existence.
There are two main types of LCA. Attributional LCAs seek to establish (or attribute) the burdens associated with the production and use of a product, or with a specific service or process, at a point in time (typically the recent past). Consequential LCAs seek to identify the environmental consequences of a decision or a proposed change in a system under study (oriented to the future), which means that market and economic implications of a decision may have to be taken into account. Social LCA is under development as a different approach to life cycle thinking intended to assess social implications or potential impacts. Social LCA should be considered as an approach that is complementary to environmental LCA.
The procedures of life cycle assessment (LCA) are part of the ISO 14000 environmental management standards: in ISO 14040:2006 and 14044:2006. (ISO 14044 replaced earlier versions of ISO 14041 to ISO 14043.) GHG product life cycle assessments can also comply with specifications such as PAS 2050 and the GHG Protocol Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard.
According to the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards, a Life Cycle Assessment is carried out in four distinct phases as illustrated in the figure shown to the right. The phases are often interdependent in that the results of one phase will inform how other phases are completed.