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Life Cycle Assessment for Your Green Product

According to UNEP, “Life Cycle Assessment is a tool for the systematic evaluation of the environmental aspects of a product or service system through all stages of its life cycle.”

The assessment starts from extraction of raw material, production of the product or service, and usage up to its disposal. Hence it is sometimes referred to as cradle to grave analysis.

Basic Stages of LCA

  1. Goal and scope definition:The product or service to be assessed and the purpose of the study are defined.
  2. Inventory analysis: Raw material inputs, energy and environmental emissions are quantified and listed.
  3. Impact Assessment: Potential environmental and health impacts due to the quantified factors are evaluated.
  4. Interpretation: The results are interpreted in a way such that the possibilities and opportunities to minimize the environmental impacts listed in the prior stage are weighed.

Can be used

  • To reduce the overall environmental impact of a product or service.
  • As a decision support tool for choosing raw materials with minimal footprint.
  • To compare various products of a company or of different companies.
  • As an aid while embracing as well as marketing green technologies and methodologies.
  • As one of the decisive factors while changing or creating government policies.
  • As an instrument for product improvement.

Limitations

  • The study can be cumbersome and expensive.
  • There may be a specified amount of uncertainty in the interpretation. Moreover, the result may be interpreted in more than one way sometimes making opposite meanings.
  • Making the inventory may be difficult when dealing with different data sources, technological and geographical variations etc.
  • Some impacts may be overlooked. It also does not include economic and social impacts.

In earlier days, LCA was just used for product comparisons. But now it has a wide range of applications such as policy making, product improvement, marketing etc. The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) postulates guidelines for Life Cycle Assessment.

* Image Courtesy Pixabay.com

 

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