Life cycle assessment analysis: why is it important?
As environmental issues affect the global ecosystem in an even more significant way, Minelli Systems is on the front line for developing and realizing environmentally-friendly products.
In fact, since the very beginning Minelli Systems know-how has integrated LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) internal processing analysis during the early stages of project planning.
What’s Life Cycle Assessment Analysis?
Life Cycle Assessment analysis relies on a precise and analytic method for product (or service) environmental footprint assessment during their entire life-cycle. This type of evaluation takes into consideration each step of project planning, from raw material selection to production, distribution, utilization and final disposal (best with recycling!).
The estimates of product/service environmental footprints are useful for ‘categorizing’ all different impacts on the environment as a result.
One of the impacts which is usually evaluated, is the anthropogenic greenhouse effect (Global Warming Potential – 100 years) from CO2 emissions in atmosphere, generated by energy and material consumption during the entire life-cycle of a product or service.
On this purpose, the well-known Product (or Service) Carbon Footprint represents a subset of an LCA study.
Life Cycle Assessment Regulations
Internationally, the LCA methodology is under ISO 14040 regulations, according to Life Cycle Assessment analysis and work phases:
- Objective definition and field of application analysis (ISO 14041)
- Input and output inventory filling (ISO 14041)
- Environmental impact assessment according to the here above input and output considerations (ISO 14042)
- Interpretation of results (ISO 14043)
In Europe, the LCA methodology supports the scientific identification of significant environmental factors, as per Green Book COM 2001/68/CE and COM 2003/302/CE regarding the Integrated Product Policy.
Besides, it is also mentioned in the EMAS European Regulations (Reg. 1221/2009) and in Ecolabel (Reg. 61/2000).
Therefore, LCA potential applications are countless:
- Product/Process Development and Improvement
- Environmental Marketing
- Planning strategies
- Public Policy implementation
Why is LCA Product Analysis relevant?
Nowadays, “green-washing” applies to any industrial sector. Life Cycle Assessment analysis represents the key factor for a more environmentally-friendly production.
In fact, Companies can always keep a track of their environmental impacts, while final consumers can be environmentally responsible and aware of their choice. Therefore LCA is not only a synonymous of respect but also transparency.
Life Cycle Assessment analysis measures environmental impacts from different production processes, identifying those of higher impact on the environment and understanding all environmental performances scientifically and technically.
Mainly, Life Cycle Assessment analysis allows a reduction and compensation of environmental impact measurements.
Life Cycle Assessment Models
Thanks to LCA, a great quantity of data can be collected. On this purpose, there are different types of LCA models, from the simplest to the most complex one:
- Cradle-to-grave: from raw material selection to final production disposal. This analysis is carried out for the entire product life cycle.
- Cradle-to-cradle: it is the circular model. In this case the product “never ends”, but its circular life-cycle is guaranteed thanks to maintenance, recovery and reusage operations.
- Cradle-to-gate: from raw material selection to Industry. This type of LCA analysis ends before the product reaches the consumer.
- Gate-to-gate: this is the most selective LCA analysis as it is exclusively carried out for each production processing within the “Industry gates”.
All LCA models have a common structure. In fact, every Life Cycle Assessment is characterized by four stages, as per previous ISO 14000 standards:
- Objective definition and analysis specification
- Creation of a product life cycle inventory
- Product, process or service environmental impact assessment
- Interpretation of results
What are the main benefits of LCA analysis during project planning?
During project planning, LCA integration is useful for solving environmental issues in a prompt and proper manner. In this way, life cycle analysis is not only an easy ritual process for product assessment, but it is also the main guide line for each stage of project planning, from design to production.
LCA technics support Eco-planning or Eco-design which aims to develop better eco-efficiency products and production processes.