What is LCA?
LCA stands for Life Cycle Assessment. It is a technique
that tries to identify, measure and characterize different
potential environmental impacts associated to each one of
the stages of the life cycle of a product.
What LCA aims at?
LCA aims to understand the flows of matter and
energy involved in the product, material, manufacturing
process, packaging, etc. and find out what are the
environmentally critical points, and prevent or remove
them using other materials or systems.
Cradle-to-grave is the full Life Cycle Assessment from
resource extraction ('cradle') to use phase and disposal
Cradle-to-gate is an assessment of a partial product life
cycle from resource extraction (cradle) to the factory
gate (i.e., before it is transported to the consumer)
Cradle-to-cradle is a specific kind of cradle-to-grave
assessment, where the end-of-life disposal step for the
product is a recycling process. It is a method used to
minimize the environmental impact of products by
employing sustainable production, operation, and
disposal practices and aims to incorporate social
responsibility into product development.
Gate-to-gate is a partial LCA looking at only
one value-added process in the entire
Well-to-wheel is the specific LCA used for transport
fuels and vehicles. The first stage, which incorporates the
feedstock or fuel production and processing and fuel
delivery or energy transmission, and is called the
"upstream" stage, while the stage that deals with vehicle
operation itself is sometimes called the "downstream"
Eco-LCA is a methodology that quantitatively takes
into account regulating and supporting services during
the life cycle of economic goods and products.
It was designed to provide a guide to wise
management of human activities by understanding the
direct and indirect impacts on ecological resources
and surrounding ecosystems.
WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH LCA?
1.Product or project development and improvement
3.Public policy making
4.Marketing and eco-declarations
Phases of LCA study
a) Phase of goal and scope definition
b) Phase of inventory analysis
c) Phase of impact assessment
d) Phase of interpretation
Phase of goal and scope definition
This is a key step and the ISO standards require that
the goal and scope of an LCA be clearly defined and
consistent with the intended application. The goal and
scope document therefore includes technical details
that guide subsequent work:
Steps involved in Goal and scope
• Product system to study
• The functions of the product system
• The functional unit
• The system limits
• Data Requirements
Phase of inventory analysis
‘Inventory’ literally means listing of products.
Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) analysis involves
creating an inventory of flows from and to nature
for a product system. Inventory flows include
inputs of water, energy, and raw materials, and
releases to air, land, and water.
It also involves data collection and quantification
of needed input/output data.
Phase of impact assessment
Understand and assess the magnitude and
importance of potential environmental impacts.
Environmental impact is an alteration of the initial
characteristics of the environment caused by a project,
work or activity It is the set of consequences for human
health, welfare of the flora and fauna
and the future availability of natural resources
attributable to the input or output streams of a system.
This process comprises of the following procedures:
• selection of impact categories, category indicators,
and characterization models;
• the classification stage, where the inventory
parameters are sorted and assigned to specific
impact categories; and
• impact measurement, where the categorized LCI
flows are characterized, using one of many possible
LCIA methodologies, into common equivalence
units that are then summed to provide an overall
impact category total.
Phase of interpretation
• Life Cycle Interpretation is a systematic
technique to identify, quantify, check, and
evaluate information from the results of
the life cycle inventory and/or the life
cycle impact assessment. The results
from the inventory analysis and impact
assessment are summarized during the
interpretation phase. The outcome of the
interpretation phase is a set of
conclusions and recommendations for the
According to ISO 14040:2006, the interpretation
• identification of significant issues based on the
results of the LCI and LCIA phases of an LCA;
• evaluation of the study considering
completeness, sensitivity and consistency
• conclusions, limitations and recommendations.