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.

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