Life Cycle Assessment

Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) is an approach used to quantify the environmental and social impacts of a product by measuring the inputs (e.g. raw materials and energy) and outputs (e.g. greenhouse gases) associated with its entire supply chain. 

The life cycle of a given product is made up of thousands of linked processes (called “unit processes”) that are each required in support of the production and use of a given product.  All unit processes have their own inputs and outputs that impact our environment and are measured as part of the LCA.  The LCA then results in a rich set of data -- a laundry list of impacts at the unit process level -- that can be loaded into a database.  The resulting database is the life cycle inventory (LCI) and provides a detailed description of all impacts associated with each process in a product’s life.

The final LCA identifies areas where process changes, potentially enabled by new research and development, can significantly reduce the negative impacts associated with the production and use of a product.