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LCA
is a device to calculate the environmental impacts of a product or a process
throughout its complete life cycle. LCA basically involves investigating the
product from the starting i.e. from the extraction of raw material for the
manufacturing process to production and use of the item and finally to its
disposal, thus covering the entire product system. The evaluation procedure
incorporates detecting and quantifying energy and materials used as well the
wastes discharged to the environment, assessing their environmental impact and estimating
opportunities for improvement. The exclusive features of such kind of
assessment is its emphasis on the complete life cycle, rather than a specific
manufacturing process or environmental emissions. The model behind this
approach is that operations happening inside a facility can also produce
impacts outside the facility’s gate that need to be pondered on when assessing
the project alternative. The goal of LCA established the level of
sophistication of the study and the requirements to reporting whereas the cope
of LCA sets the border of that particular assessment i.e. what to include in
the system and what kind of comprehensive assessments procedures are to be
used.

In defining the scope of an LCA study, the
following elements must be considered and clearly described:

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a.) The functions of the system, or in the case of
comparative studies, systems.

b.) The functional unit.

c.) The system to be studied.

d.) The system boundaries.

e.) The allocation procedures.

f.) The types of impact and the methodology of
impact assessment and subsequent interpretation to be used.

g.) Data requirements.

h.) Assumptions.

i.) Limitations.

j.) The initial data quality requirements.

k.) The type of critical review, if any.

l.) The type and format of the report required for
the study.

 

The benefits of applying life cycle assessment are:

 

1.    
Quantify and manage aspects of the
environmental sustainability of products, services, and operations along the
different lifecycle phases

2.    
Identify the significant
environmental impacts of products at all stages of their lifecycle

3.    
Compare products and find
sustainability improvements easier to apply in-house

4.    
Promote demand for products that have
fewer adverse environmental impacts

5.    
Prepare environmental action plans
and manage risks and potential liabilities

6.    
Optimise the procurement process

7.    
Communicate environmental initiatives
and respond to stakeholder demands

8.    
Comply with regulations and gain
competitive advantage

9.    
Integrate environmental management
into core business decision-making and actions

10.  Improve
return on investment

 

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