How to put in place an eco-design approach?
Understand by evaluating the environmental impact of the product

What is LCA?

The objective of a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is to model environmental flows (energy flows, etc.) in terms of potential environmental impact using mathematical models which describe the mechanisms which take place once the substance has been emitted. LCA is a multi-criteria tool designed to analyze environmental impact.

LCA adopts a standardized ISO 14000 approach (series of ISO 14040 standards), following a well-defined methodology involving compulsory stages presented hereafter.
It should be noted that the application of this methodology to an actual case requires specific knowledge and training.

The LCA process comprises four stages during which an iterative approach must be adopted (go back and forth between stages to progressively improve the analysis, see chart arrows):

  • Stage 1. Defining the objectives and fields of the study

Phase 1. Objectives and fields of the study
Phase 2. Product function and functional unit
Phase 3. System boundaries

  • Stage 2. Inventory of the data on life cycle

Data collection

  • Stage 3. Modeling environmental impact throughout the entire life cycle

“Mid-point” methods
“End-point” methods
Phase 1. Characterization
Phase 2. Standardization
Phase 3. Weighting

  • Stage 4. Interpreting results and defining priority improvements

There are different types of LCA software. This software can calculate the potential environmental impact based on data of the inventory.
Software helps develop the product’s life cycle model and include the corresponding elementary processes.
Example of elementary processes: electricity production from an energy mix with, for France, roughly 84% of nuclear energy, 6% hydraulic energy, etc.

Software integrates several evaluation methods and different databases. The database must be selected when developing the model and the method when calculating the impact.