πŸ”¬LCA methodology: Deep dive

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a fundamental tool for calculating, managing, and mitigating the environmental impacts of products or services.

β€œLCA studies the environmental aspects and potential impacts throughout a product’s life cycle (i.e. cradle-to-grave) from raw material acquisition through production, use and disposal. The general categories of environmental impacts needing consideration include resource use, human health, and ecological consequences.” (ISO 14044:2006)

The concept of LCA emerged in the late 1960s and evolved into a structured methodology during the late 1980s. The first comprehensive framework for LCA was established with the publication of the ISO 14040 series in 1997.

Technology meets LCA

Despite the robust framework provided by ISO standards, the practical application of LCA often encountered challenges, including:

  • Complexity: mapping the life cycle stages and assessing the impacts was not straightforward. The data collection, modeling, and analysis can be complex and time-consuming.

  • Unrealistic requirements: Meeting the exhaustive requirements of traditional LCA methodologies may not always be feasible within time and resource constraints.

  • Scalability: Traditional LCAs are not scalable because of the limitations of tools used by LCA practitioners.

There is a growing need for a technological solution to solve the complex issues and make LCA more accessible and scalable for the industry.

This is why at Yook, we strive for a pragmatic approach to LCA. Our focus is on crafting a software solution that is performing LCA at scale and looks into the entire expansive product portfolio. Our effort is to keep the balance between pragmatism and scientific precision.

LCA, as defined by ISO 14040, has four key stages:

  1. Goal and Scope Definition: In this initial stage, we precisely define the purpose, functional unit, and boundaries of the assessment.

  2. Life Cycle Inventory (LCI): It is now time to collect the relevant data points. This entails gathering data from the extraction of raw materials to manufacturing, distribution, utilization, and eventual disposal.

  3. Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA): We need to understand the environmental impact attributed to a product. Here is a step where we translate all the compiled data into the form of an environmental indicator (Environmental impact assessment indicator). Different categories such as Global warming potential, Primary energy consumption, Toxicity, Water usage, land usage, and many more are evaluated at this stage.

  4. Interpretation: Time for analytics! This stage involves a thorough analysis and understanding of the results. Based on the results from LCIA, we make conclusions and recommendations for carbon reduction strategies, product modification, or better sourcing, to name a few.

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