Life Cycle Management What is it? Integrated concept for managing goods and services towards more sustainable production and consumption by applying life cycle thinking to modern business practice. How is it applied? “Applicable for industrial and other organizations demanding a system-oriented platform for implementation of a preventative and sustainability driven approach for product and service systems.” (LC Beginners. United Nations Environment Program. ) What can be done? “May serve as guiding principle for product oriented policy making and general policy frameworks such as Integrated Product Policy (IPP) and Extended Product Responsibility (EPR).” (LC Beginners. United Nations Environment Program)
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) What is it? Quantitative method to evaluate environmental system impacts of a product or service through all stages of its life cycle. Life Cycle Assessment includes both Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) as well as Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) Possible Life Cycle Stages of an LCA and Typical Inputs/Outputs Source: LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) What are the benefits? • Develop a systematic evaluation of the environmental consequences associated with a given product. • Analyze the environmental trade-offs associated with one or more specific products/processes to help gain stakeholder (state, community, etc.) acceptance for a planned action. • Quantify environmental releases to air, water, and land in relation to each life cycle stage and/or major contributing process. • Assist in identifying significant shifts in environmental impacts between life cycle stages and environmental media. • Assess the human and ecological effects of material consumption and environmental releases to the local community, region, and world. • Compare the health and ecological impacts between two or more rival products/processes or identify the impacts of a specific product or process. • Identify impacts to one or more specific environmental areas of concern. Source: LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE.
Phases of LCA Goal & Scope Definition Product(s) or service(s) are defined, including the selection of a functional unit for comparison Inventory Analysis Material use and emissions are quantified for each process of the product or service life cycle at the level of the functional unit Impact Assessment Physical use and emissions are grouped and quantified into a limited number of impact categories Interpretation Results are reported and the need to reduce the impacts are systematically evaluated
Phase 1: Goal & Scope Definition How Does it Affect the LCA Process? • Determines the time and resources needed • Guides the entire process to ensure that the most meaningful results are obtained • Impacts either how the study will be conducted, or the relevance of the final results. What is Goal Definition & Scoping? “Goal definition and scoping is the phase of the LCA process that defines the purpose and method of including life cycle environmental impacts into the decision-making process.” In this phase, the following items must be determined: • the type of information that is needed to add value to the decision-making process • how accurate the results must be to add value • how the results should be interpreted and displayed in order to be meaningful and usable Source: LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE.
Phase 1: Goal & Scope Definition What must be addressed in an LCA Scope? • What life cycle stages will be included within the boundary of inquiry • Determine how the data should be organized around a functional unit of comparison • What type of information is needed • What level of specificity is required • Determine how the results should be displayed What is an LCA Goal? The following are examples of possible LCA goals: • Support broad environmental assessment • Establish baseline information for a process • Rank the relative contribution of individual steps or processes • Identify data gaps • Support public policy • Support product certification • Provide information and direction to decision makers • Guide product and process development Follow Along with an EXAMPLE: There is a need to compare on the basis of an equivalent function. LCA would compare 1 liter of milk in a glass container to 1 liter of milk in a carton container, instead of 1 glass milk to 1 carton milk Source: LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE.
Phase 2: Life Cycle Inventory What do the results of an LCI look like? “An LCI produces a list containing the quantities of pollutants released to the environment and the amount of energy and material consumed. The results can be segregated by life cycle stage, media (air, water, and land), specific processes, or any combination thereof.” What is LCI? “ A life cycle inventory is a process of quantifying energy and raw material requirements, atmospheric emissions, waterborne emissions, solid wastes, and other releases for the entire life cycle of a product, process, or activity.” Why do an LCI? “ In the life cycle inventory phase of an LCA, all relevant data is collected and organized. Without an LCI, no basis exists to evaluate comparative environmental impacts or potential improvements. The level of accuracy and detail of the data collected is reflected throughout the remainder of the LCA process.” Follow Along with an EXAMPLE: How many tons of carbon dioxide and how many tons of methane emissions are released into the atmosphere? Which stage of the life cycle has the highest amount of released emissions? Source: LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE.
Phase 3: Life Cycle Impact Assessment What do the results of an LCIA mean? “The results of an LCIA show the relative differences in potential environmental impacts for each option.” What is LCIA? “ The Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) phase of an LCA is the evaluation of potential human health and environmental impacts of the environmental resources and releases identified during the LCI.A life cycle impact assessment attempts to establish a linkage between the product or process and its potential environmental impacts.” Why do an LCIA? “ An LCIA provides a more meaningful basis to make comparison than an inventory because an LCIA determines potential for greater impact. LCIA can calculate impacts of specific impacts are large identified problems such as smog and global warming.” Follow Along with an EXAMPLE: What are the impacts of 9,000 tons of carbon dioxide or 5,000 tons of methane emissions released into the atmosphere? Which is worse? What are their potential impacts on smog? On global warming? Source: LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE.
Phase 4: Life Cycle Interpretation What does an Interpretation include? Interpretations have the following two objectives: 1. Analyze results, reach conclusions, explain limitations, and provide recommendations based on the findings of the preceding phases of the LCA, and to report the results of the life cycle interpretation in a transparent manner. 2. Provide a readily understandable, complete, and consistent presentation of the results of an LCA study, in accordance with the goal and scope of the study. What is an Interpretation? “ Life cycle interpretation is a systematic technique to identify, quantify, check, and evaluate information from the results of the LCI and the LCIA, and communicate them effectively.” How can the Interpretation be used? “ The purpose of conducting an LCA is to better inform decision-makers by providing a particular type of information (often unconsidered), with a life cycle perspective of environmental and human health impacts associated with each product or process. However, LCA does not take into account technical performance, cost, or political and social acceptance. Therefore, it is recommended that LCA be used in conjunction with these other parameters. “ Source: LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE.
Additional Resources LCA 101 Published by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Science Applications International Life Cycle Initiative Training Kit EPA Extensive List of LCA Resources
Works Cited LC Beginners. United Nations Environment Program. Web. <http://www.estis.net/sites/lcinit/default.asp?site=lcinit&page_id=11A26B55-8A61-4FDA-AE7F-47C13119E384>. LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE. Rep. NATIONAL RISK MANAGEMENT RESEARCH LABORATORY OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, 30 May 2006. Web. <http://www.epa.gov/ord/NRMRL/lcaccess/pdfs/chapter1_frontmatter_lca101.pdf>.