Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
An Envirnmental Product Declaration (EPD) must be issued on the basis of the results of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) conducted by an Organization on its product in compliance with the provision of an approved Product Category Rule (PCR) which is the reference document enabling the comparison of two different LCAs conducted on different products with the same function.
The PCR specifies relevant variables to be considered when conducting an LCA such as:
- the system boundary (how far upstream, downstream and sidestream does the analysis go)
- the functional unit (what is the volume/mass/purpose of the object being assessed)
- the specific Lyfe Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods such as allocation (how are impacts assigned to the product and by-products and on what basis).
LCA is defined as the “compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle” (ISO 14040).
LCA is a multi-steps and iterative process for analysing the environmental burden of products at all stages in their life cycle – from the extraction of resources, through the production of materials, product parts and the product itself, and the use of the product to the management after it is discarded, either by reuse, recycling or final disposal (therefore, ‘from the cradle to the grave’).
The complete process of LCA includes goal and scope definition, inventory analysis, impact assessment, and interpretation.
LCA helps Organizations to:
- identify opportunities to improve the environmental performance of products at various points in their life cycle
- inform decision-makers in Industry and Government Organizations
- select relevant indicators of environmental performance
- improve marketing effectiveness by producing an environmental product declaration.