Introduction to Life Cycle Assessments

Introduction to Life Cycle Assessments

Daniel Collado-Ruiz

18 years: Life Cycle Assessment

For greener products, we need greener decisions. And for greener decisions, we need well informed decision makers. Join Daniel Collado-Ruiz as he breaks down life cycle

For greener products, we need greener decisions. And for greener decisions, we need well informed decision makers. Join Daniel Collado-Ruiz as he breaks down life cycle

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Introduction to Life Cycle Assessments

10 mins 5 secs

Overview

Human production models have evolved to be unsustainable. We emit substances that end up impacting human health and biodiversity and consume non-renewable resources such that future generations will not have access to them. All these impacts are affected by how we consume resources from nature, and how we emit substances to it. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an internationally standardised, science-based, quantitative method for assessing impacts, evaluating decisions, making better decisions, and reporting on the benefits. The ISO 14040 defines four distinct stages to an LCA: goal and scope definition, inventory analysis, impact assessment and interpretation.

Key learning objectives:

  • Define a life cycle assessment

  • Outline the steps of the LCA process

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Summary

What is a life cycle assessment (LCA)? 

Life cycle assessment is an internationally standardised, science-based, quantitative method for assessing impacts, evaluating decisions, making better decisions, and reporting on the benefits.

How do you do a life cycle assessment? 

The ISO 14040 defines four distinct stages to an LCA: goal and scope definition, inventory analysis, impact assessment and interpretation.

1. Goal and scope definition

We must spell out what we are measuring, what we intend to find out, how far we will go with each of the threads, and how we will deal with data quality and uncertainty. 

2. Inventory analysis

This entails collecting data from the life cycle of our product. For example, how much of each material, process, energy or chemical do we have as input or output? 

3. Impact assessment

This is where we convert all that information into environmental impacts. In practice, we end up with numeric values for each of the environmental impacts we are measuring. 

4. Interpretation 

We interpret the results.

 

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Daniel Collado-Ruiz

Daniel Collado-Ruiz

Daniel Collado-Ruiz is the Chief Product Officer at Earthster, where he builds next-generation tools to measure environmental impact. He was an academic, entrepreneur, and innovation consultant before founding Earthster to turn LCA into what the world needs to deal with environmental challenges.

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