Sustainable products promote healthy environments and are designed, produced and recycled with responsible actions. In order to avoid, minimize or mitigate the environmental impacts of potential business decisions, the sustainability of products or services requires analyzing the environmental impacts throughout the product’s life cycle. This is called life cycle analysis and it includes sourcing of supplies, transportation, manufacturing, packaging, use, maintenance, and end-of-life disposal/recycling.
A life cycle assessment (LCA, also known as life cycle analysis) is a tool used to evaluate the environmental impacts of products and activities. It involves inventory, investigation, and evaluation of all inputs and outputs associated with a product or service. This scientific approach is based on measurable attributes and can be applied to eco-system boundaries.
A life cycle assessment (LCA) quantifies the use of physical resources (inputs) and environmental degradation (outputs). Examples of inputs are raw materials, water, and energy. Examples of outputs are pollutants in the forms of air and water emissions as well as solid waste or radiation.
Through responsible actions, businesses can compare different manufacturing processes to measure resource use and emissions. It can also compare similar products, such as shopping bags, to evaluate the resource use and emissions potential for large scale use. Another key factor is measuring the impacts of various stages in the lifecycle such as use and maintenance after the product has gone to market.
By increasing our knowledge of product and activity efficiency it is possible to lower negative outputs across all phases of the product life cycle.
As consumers and businesses gain greater awareness of product impacts, better environmental decisions can help to minimize the negative impacts of environmental degradation through inefficient use, pollution and emissions.
If you run a business and are interested in having a life cycle assessment for your products the following resources may be helpful:
Directory of certified life cycle assessment consultants:
American Center for Life Cycle Assessment
Denver Sustainability Consultation:
303 East 17th Avenue # 400
Denver, CO 80203
Free downloadable software: