An introduction to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
As we begin a life cycle assessment (LCA) of our products, I find no shortage of available information on the subject. Fielding, a medium sized company has integrated Sustainability into our culture mostly through internal initiatives and resources and we will approach LCAs the same way. A Google search turns up 1000’s of results. With a little digging and advice, a reasonably consistent template for an LCA emerges. In my case, my advice came from Rick Findlay, President of Sustainable Path. Rick pointed me toward a document linked here which provides a concise definition and background on what an LCA is.
The template is pretty intuitive and simple. Something like this:
Quantify the impact of a product over its entire lifecycle, where impact is measured through:
- Raw materials consumed
- Energy Consumed
- Waste generated
And entire lifecycle includes:
- Extraction and refinement of resources
- Processing of resources into intermediates
- Manufacture intermediates into products
- Operation or utilization of the product
- All packaging and transportation used throughout cycle.
- Repurposing of spent product
- Disposal of residues
Next I will address the objectives of our LCA, how we are looking to apply it, some of the challenges we are running into and how we solve them.