Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and EPD

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and EPD

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is intended to support environmental labelling.

The evaluation of life cycle is one of the main tools for:
  • The implementation of an integrated policy about products.
  • The implementation of “Life Cycle Thinking”.
“Life cycle thinking” is an objective method to assess and quantify the energetic and environmental cost and potential impact of a product/process/activity during its whole life cycle due to:
  • Pre-production activities (mining and producing)
  • Production
  • Distribution
  • Use and maintenance
  • Recycling
  • Final removal (from the cradle to the grave approach)
At international level ISO 14040 and 14044 regulate LCA .

According to those standards, an evaluation of life cycle requires:
  • The definition of the target and scope of application of the analysis (ex. ISO 14041)
  • The compilation of an inventory of input and output of the specific system (ex. ISO 14041)
  • The evaluation of the potential environmental impact connected with input and output of the system (ex. ISO 14042)
  • The interpretation of the results (ex. ISO 14043)
At European level, the strategic importance of adopting LCA methodology is expressed clearly inside the Green Book COM 2001/68/CE and COM 2003/302/CE about the integrated policy of products and it is suggested, indirectly, by Europe Regulation EMAS and Ecolabel.

LCA is a fundamental support for the development of Environmental labelling:
  • By assisting in the definition of a reference frame of environmental criteria for a specific group of products (ecologic label of Ecolabel kind)
  • As a main tool to get an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)
The EPD is a document which allows companies to communicate additional information about the environmental performances of their products, but it must be developed using the Life Cycle Assessment as the method to identify and qualify environmental impacts.

EPD is applicable to all products and classification is in well-defined groups, enabling comparisons to be made.