Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an environmental management technique that identifies the material, energy, and waste flows of a product over a product life cycle and their impact on the environment.

Life cycle assessment (LCA) can assist in:

– identifying opportunities to improve the environmental performance of products at various points in their life cycle;

– informing decision-makers in industry, government or non-government organizations (e.g. for the purpose of strategic planning, priority setting, product or process design or redesign);

– the selection of relevant indicators of environmental performance, including measurement techniques, and marketing (e.g. implementing an ecolabelling scheme, making an environmental claim, or producing an environmental product declaration).

ISO Standard 14044:2016 defines the general principles and framework for conducting and reporting LCA studies.

This International Standard ISO 14044: 2016  covers two types of studies: life cycle assessment studies (LCA studies) and life cycle inventory studies (LCI studies). LCI studies are similar to LCA studies but exclude the LCIA phase. LCI are not to be confused with the LCI phase of an LCA study.

LCA is one of many other environmental management techniques (such as risk assessment, environmental performance assessment, environmental audit and environmental impact assessment) and may not be the most appropriate technique to use in all situations.The LCA does not usually address the economic or social aspects of a product, but the life cycle approach and methodologies described in this international standard can be applied to these other aspects.

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