How to get the most out of LCA?

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is one of the most well-known methods that can support ecodesign implementation. It provides a quantification of environmental aspects and impacts across the product life cycle and supports the decision-making task, when conceptualising and detailing ecodesigned solutions. LCA spans all successive life cycle phases of a product or system and has gained broad acceptance in industry as a trustworthy method to quantify the environmental aspects and potential impacts of the life cycle of product systems. The holistic systems perspective, which is applied in LCA, enables the company to disclose the ‘problem shifting’ which occurs when solutions to environmental problems at one place in a product’s life cycle create new problems elsewhere in the life cycle.

LCA has two important places in a manufacturing company: (i) the environmental, health & safety (EH&S) function of the organisation, where reporting and high-level (maybe product family) assessments are carried out; and (ii) in the product development department, where the knowledge of products, processes, ecosystems and use scenarios provide important guidance for ecodesign. The challenge is always, how to ensure the right level of LCA knowledge in the mind of the product developer and/or how to compensate for the lack of LCA expertise knowledge through a combination of tools and the pairing of LCA specialists with product development specialists. The solution to this challenge lies in a strategic management recognition, paired with a tactical management prioritisation.

At essensus we have created a comprehensive database of LCA tools, by charting and categorising all of the commercially produced and academically developed tools that are available for LCA as an aid to the ecodesign process. We have also developed measures to identify the management practices in the company, which will ensure an efficient and successful integration of your company’s LCA efforts into the sustainable product development process. Contact us for more information about the choice of LCA tools and their fitness for purpose in your organisation, and to gain insight into how an enhancement of your company’s ecodesign management practices can help you to ensure maximum value from your LCA efforts.