The ABC of LCA
LCA: an evaluation method
“If you can not measure it, you can not improve it!”, Lord Kelvin, 1883
The Life cycle assessment (LCA) tool is an evaluation method which serves to quantify environmental impacts, by disassembling the manufacturing process of a product.
“From the cradle… to the crave!”
The slogan summarizes the concept, that is the evaluation, from beginning to end, of environmental impacts of sectors supplying products or services.
Through its multicriteria approach, it is thus possible to determine precisely how each step of the way affects the environment and how it can then be adjusted or managed differently in order to yield better performance with the least environmental impact.
The ecological and social economic transition is recognised to be a means to generate growth whilst preserving the planet.
Recommended by the European commission (ILCD guide), standardized (ISO 14040) and developped in the last thirty years, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tool’s purpose is to evaluate the environmental performance of a product, a service, an object, an organization, by quantifying the impact of emissions and ressources used all along the life cycle, from the extraction of raw material through use and up to end-of-life.
In such a context, the development of appropriate tools for the purpose of measuring environmental and social performance is therefore a strategic stake for industry for whom several opportunities arise:
- integration of environmental and social methods to their practices
- productivity returns (savings from materials, water, better managment of human resources)
- anticipation on the evolution of regulations and markets
- awareness of sustainable development issues
- becoming a pioneer with regards regulations (IPP, CSR) or guidelines (WFD, The Water Framework Directive).
3′ to understand Life Cycle Thinking