Life cycle assessment

A life cycle assessment models the interaction between a product and the environment from its creation to its disassembly. The analysis is intended to provide a complete picture of environmental impact that the designer of a product might not otherwise be aware of. The outcome of this analysis might be the use of more environmentally-friendly raw materials, packaging, and production processes. The main phases of a life cycle assessment are:

  1. Goal and scope. Clearly define the context of the project and how the information will be used.
  2. Life cycle inventory. Create an inventory of flows from a product to the environment, of which there may be hundreds.
  3. Life cycle impact assessment. Evaluate the significance of the flows noted in the preceding step.
  4. Interpretation. Evaluate the information from the preceding steps, which may alter the design and content of the product under review.