Life Cycle Assessment: Introduction

Science, Technology and Health

According to ISO (1997 cited in Hendrickson, 2006) life cycle assessment “studies the environmental aspects and potential impacts throughout a product’s life from raw material acquisition through production, use, and disposal”. LCA helps to understand true and total cost associated with the manufacture of a product, its use and disposal. Environmental releases to air, water and land from each life cycle stage of a product can be quantified from life cycle assessment (ALCAS, n.d.; Environment Agency, 2011; RSC, n.d.). LCA contains three components: an inventory analysis, impact analysis, and an improvement analysis (Hendrickson, 2006; Svoboda, 1995).

Inventory is the data collection stage which assesses energy and raw material requirements and environmental pollution such as air emissions, solid waste disposal and waste water discharges throughout the life cycle of the product (ALCAS, n.d.; Svoboda, 1995). The stage involves construction of process maps or flow charts and establishing material and energy balance…

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