Life cycle assessment (LCA) is one of various types of methods can improve and help environmental management. according to Defining Life Cycle Assessment of US Environmental Protection Agency, life cycle assessment is also known as life-cycle analysis, eco-balance, and cradle-to-grave analysis, which is a important tools to analyze environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life from beginning to the end.
According to international standard 14040 2006, there are four main stages involved in LCA. The first stage of an LCA is definition of the goals and scopes of the study. The second stage is Life cycle inventory (LCI) analysis, which analyzes all inputs and outputs of a process or product. After the LCI, life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) is third stage, which aims to evaluate the significant potential environmental impact based on the LCI flow results. The last stage is performed in order to systematically examine a product’s life cycle, from raw materials to the final disposal of products. In my opinion, this stage is the most important one because we often ignore the disposal of products. For example, for the plastic bottles, for the impact category of climate change the bottle production stage (including raw materials) account for 71% for the HDPE and 76% for the PET bottle respectively. Therefore, if functionality requirements allow, improvements at this life cycle stage such as light weighting or increase recycled content may have huge positive effects for the environmental and health aspect (Fry, Hartlin, Wallén and Aumônier, 2010).
In conclusion, Life cycle assessment is a key tool in the environmental management. a well LCA will lead to the better environmental decision. In some case, LCA is more effective because it is a cradle to grave assessment method which means it can analyze full life of the product or process.
“Defining Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).” US Environmental Protection Agency. 17 October 2010. Web.
ISO 14040 (2006): Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Principles and framework, International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), Geneve
Robert, C, 2011, Life Cycle Assessment in the Built Environment, Taylor and Francis
Fry, JM, Hartlin, B, Wallén, E and Aumônier, S, 2010, ‘Life cycle assessment of example packaging systems for milk’ wrap.