Posts Tagged ‘LCA’

LCA Tools

Good quick review of available tools to do Life Cycle Assessments: http://www.linkcycle.com/comparison-of-best-life-cycle-assessment-software/ and here

I like the way Linkcycle thinks – focusing on the most strategic and biggest influencers on lifecycle impacts, rather than doing monster assessments.  They even offer a free quick review tool.

Of course, the biggest challenge of LCA is comparing apples to apples based on the best data applicable to your products and processes.


11/20/12 additional info:  Interesting review of Berkeley LMAS study comparing results of different LCA models.  It really matters what assumptions your model uses!  Paper cup rankings for 3 different models: 1, 3 and 6/6 !


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Interesting presentation by Bresseler company in how they do quick versions of life cycle analysis in an iterative process in doing product design:  http://www.bresslergroup.com/webinar/cut-the-crap/video.php

I don’t know the company, but I like their way of thinking.

This is not unlike the product stewardship processes I’ve long supported.  See my paper on

Product Development with Life Cycle Thinking

While you are designing processes to serve customer needs, keep you eyes wide for more sustainable solutions and keep checking as you go, including after the product is out there and new information and technologies point toward even better solutions.

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I agree with the article by Mark McElroy “Do LCAs Measure Up To Sustainability?”  He says they do not, because they are too narrowly focused on eco-efficiency only and ignore context.

As I’ve blogged before, sustainability should be about how we do what we do and not a collation of LCA’s.  At best LCA’s help inform decisions as we try to understand the dynamic systems of which products and users are a part.  I use the phrase “life cycle thinking” to describe how we need to recognize the potential intended and unintended consequences of our actions.  Understanding contexts and consequences.

There is no such a thing as a “sustainable product” (see comments into EPA on their proposed efforts here).  We each bear responsibilities as product stewards in how we manage a product throughout its life cycle – whatever our role might be.

McElroy also hits the mark that LCA’s and too many “sustainability” efforts focus only on environmental issues .  Probably because they are  easier to measure than social and economic impacts.

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Deloitte just published a white paper on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

Some content I particularly like:
LCA is hard to do and hard to compare across companies. It’s data intensive and relies on a large number of assumptions that you can spend forever arguing about. It’s best use is for priority setting within a company as part of a company’s overall sustainability strategic planning. I particularly agree that “lite” LCAs may be just as useful.

I advocate the concept of Life Cycle Management – definitely an LCA-lite approach. LCM encourages product developers and managers to ask a series of questions about the environmental, health and safety and public concerns at each stage of the life cycle. By using life cycle thinking, they will hone in on potential risks and information gaps and set priorities for managing risks and making a more sustainable product. In addition, an LCM identifies where a company can leverage the market advantages of their products. See my website for more info.

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