Life Cycle Assessments (LCA)
A life cycle assessment (LCA) is a standardized method to quantitatively assess the environmen¬tal performance of a product, service, or material. An LCA evaluates a product's impact across its life cycle and considers all aspects of its fabrication, including raw material extraction, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, usage and disposal, and material recycling and new life.
An LCA identifies opportunities for improvement by localizing environmental hot spots in the life cycle by studying the contribution of the different life stages on the overall environmental impact.
An LCA study consists of four stages:
The scope and goal of the study need to be stated. In this stage, the reason for executing the LCA is defined. Furthermore, a precise definition of the product is needed in addition to a description of data and requirements, assumptions, and limitations.
The inputs and outputs in the product's life cycle are modeled. This system is usually referred to as life cycle inventory (LCI) and is often illustrated and shows system boundaries and flows like inputs of raw materials and outputs to air, land, and water.
The life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) is studied, and the environmental relevance of the inputs and outputs are addressed.
The study needs to be interpreted.