The professional society for life cycle assessment


LCA can be used of marketing in two different ways.

1) a life cycle study can compare one product to another, and permit one to make claims (e.g. product A is twice as energy efficient as product B) ISO 13030 and 14044 govern these kinds of studies.

2) LCA studies are the basis of environmental product declarations, or Type III ecolabels. These labels are disclosure labels much like a nutrition label. They make no claims of superiority. Carbon footprints are a kind of environmental product declaration, albeit a limited one, as they disclose only the life cycle climate change impact. Besides ISO 14040 and 14044, one should follow ISO 14020, 14025, 14024 in developing type III ecolabels.

Process Improvement







The most common use for LCA is process improvement. LCA models are built on process flows, with each unit process a subsystem with inputs and outputs, and each unit process linked to other processes. knowing the inputs and emissions of every step of a life cycle identifies hotspots in the life cycle where on can get the greatest environmental benefits for little effort.


Life cycle assessment is used in many policy settings. In the US, it is integrated into the Federal Government Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program. It is also in the Energy Independence and Security Act, which specifies the preference of biofuels over conventional fuels in the case where they have lower carbon footprints.

In the EU, any laws and regulations call out LCA, either as an analytical foundation or as a regulatory release valve. Some of hte laws and regulations calling out LCA are:

  • Restriction on the use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS)
  • Integrated Product Policy (IPP)
  • End of Life Vehicles
  • EU Directive on Packaging & packaging waste
  • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
  • Registration, Evaluation, Authorisationand Restriction of Chemicals
  • Batteries Directive 

Furthermore, LCA studies can often predict whether a policy decision is likely to cause more environmental harm than it cures. For example, Several LCA studies pointed out ahead of time that policies that supported corn-based ethanol would likely lead to food insecurity and tropical rainforest losses.