Life-Cycle Analysis/Assessment (LCA):
LCA is a technique for assessing the environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product by:
- compiling an inventory of relevant inputs and outputs of a product system
- evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with those inputs and outputs
- interpreting the results
It is a method in which the energy and the raw material consumption, different types of emissions and other important factors are being measures, analysed and summoned over the product’s entire life cycle from an environmental point of view.
It is a ‘Cradle to Grave’ approach. It started in the early 1970s, initially analysed only energy requirements.
While USA has its own standards, Europe and Japan follow international standards. ISO 14040-14043 is considered to be the LCA standard.
Raw material aquisition (Material extraction) : For example, extraction of air/water/minerals/crude oil etc.
Material manufacturing (Material processing): For example, modification of the extracted product, say Fe to steel.
Product manufacture: For example, Making of a car.
Use (Produce use, maintenance, upgrade): For example, using the car.
LCA approach in based on the following four steps:
- Goal definition (ISO 14040): The basic and scope of the evaluation are defined.
- Inventory Analysis ( ISO 14041): Complete mass and energy balance.
- Impact Assessment (ISO 14042)
- Improvement Assessment (ISO 14043)