Woman and man looking over plans for life cycle assessment

Life cycle assessment

A life cycle assessment quantifies environmental impacts during the life cycle of a product, process or service.

Life cycle assessments offer a reliable and standardised approach that is pivotal in evaluating environmental impacts. The results can be used in guiding sustainable decisions and fostering innovation for a greener future. At AFRY, we can support you with life cycle assessments based on your needs and ambition level.

Life cycle assessment (LCA)

An LCA quantifies the environmental impacts throughout a product or service’s life cycle from raw material extraction to disposal. It serves various purposes, including product development, process optimisation, marketing and strategic decision-making support. For product development, an LCA guides design choices to minimise environmental impacts and helps identify materials and processes with the largest potential for improvement of environmental performance.

Infographic showcasing a product's life cycle
An LCA study covers all steps from resource extraction to end-of-life.

The ISO standards 14040 1  and 14044 2  provide the structure for which a life cycle assessment is conducted. Life cycle assessment is an iterative method to capture different types of environmental impacts, such as climate change, acidification, eutrophication, toxicity, water use and resource depletion in the same assessment. An LCA focusing only on climate change is called a product carbon footprint and it is conducted according to the ISO standard 14067 3 .

LCAs and product carbon footprints include the following distinct phases:

  • Goal and scope: studying the goal, LCA scope and methodology
  • Inventory analysis: collecting data across the product life cycle
  • Environmental impact assessment: assessing the environmental impacts
  • Interpretation: analysing the method impacts, assumptions and data gaps

Based on the results of an LCA study, a company can proactively integrate knowledge of the environmental impacts into designing new, better products or updating existing ones.

After an LCA study, a company could decide to create an environmental product declaration (EPD) for transparent communication of its product's environmental impacts, simultaneously as an ecodesign study empowers the company to search for innovative solutions to optimise the design of the product further 4 . An LCA or carbon footprint can also be used as a basis for a handprint study.

AFRY’s life cycle assessment services

Screening LCA Arrow pointing right

Screening life cycle assessment with a lower level of data focusing on environmental hotspots serves product development particularly. For internal use, e.g. ecodesign, internal benchmarking or comparison of alternative solutions.

LCA and carbon footprint Arrow pointing right

Life cycle assessment according to ISO 14040/44 or carbon footprint (ISO 14067). Full assessment, including an LCA report ready for critical review by a third party. It can be used for internal purposes or external communication (if so, critical review is strongly recommended).

Environmental product declaration (EPD) Arrow pointing right

Full LCA according to ISO standards and applicable product category rules according to the EPD system. Preparation of EPD documents and participation in critical review. EPD documents are intended for external communication in a standardised format.

Critical review of LCA Arrow pointing right

AFRY provides experienced LCA experts to critically review LCA and carbon footprint reports and software models according to the critical review standard ISO 14071. Recommended for LCAs aimed to be used for external communication.

Additional services Arrow pointing right

Together with AFRY's Digital Solutions, we can offer supporting services such as data templates for suppliers, visualisation dashboards and internal tools for product comparisons.

At AFRY, we have internal experts from multiple industries who can assist in the LCA processes and bring in sectoral knowledge from their day-to-day work.

Get in touch with our experts

Tiina Pajula - Senior Principal, AFRY Management Consulting

Tiina Pajula

Senior Principal, AFRY Management Consulting

Contact Tiina Pajula

For sales enquiries, please complete this form. For all other enquiries, please visit our office and contacts page here.
Anna Karin Jönbrink - Principal, AFRY Management Consulting

Anna Karin Jönbrink

Principal, AFRY Management Consulting

Contact Anna Karin Jönbrink

For sales enquiries, please complete this form. For all other enquiries, please visit our office and contacts page here.
AFRY contact person generic image

Saskia Gauld

Manager, AFRY Management Consulting

Contact Saskia Gauld

For sales enquiries, please complete this form. For all other enquiries, please visit our office and contacts page here.
Consulting

Sustainability Consulting

AFRY's Sustainability Consulting team is part of a 1,300-person strong network of AFRY sustainability professionals worldwide.

The team help clients mitigate risks, capture opportunities along the entire value chain and fulfil their business objectives, no matter where they are on their sustainability journey.

Frequently asked questions

Why should my business consider conducting life cycle assessments? Arrow pointing right

With a life cycle assessment, you get a thorough look into your product’s environmental impacts throughout its life cycle. It can be used in all phases during development to support strategic decision-making by providing the ability to perform detailed analysis on important environmental metrics, such as carbon emissions, water usage, energy use, etc.

An LCA offers quantifiable data for developing KPIs and targets. It provides a transparent and verified analysis of the product's life cycle that can be communicated to show the efforts that have been taken during development and the advantages that a product offers.

The results of an LCA are important information for the value chain, as they are also needed, for example, in organisational greenhouse gas calculations.

Utilising standardised assessments, such as environmental product declarations, enables straightforward product assessment.

What are the key application areas of life cycle assessment? Arrow pointing right

LCAs can be used for learning more about the product or process, leading to improvement opportunities and allowing comparisons between different concepts, materials and processes.

In addition, they describe environmental impacts from your products or processes, e.g. through a certified environmental declaration (EPD) and can serve as the basis for decisions in product development or company/societal strategies.

This process is essential for designing products with minimised environmental footprints and enhancing the sustainability aspect of strategic planning for businesses and supply chains. Furthermore, it can enhance precision for public policy development and marketing strategies alike. Life cycle assessment can be applied in generating environmental product declarations (EPDs) to transparently communicate a product's environmental effects.

Why choose AFRY as your LCA collaboration partner? Arrow pointing right

At AFRY, we have sectoral experts with extensive experience in conducting life cycle assessments for various industries. Our team is well-versed in the latest methodologies and tools for LCA, ensuring accurate results and insights.

Within the LCA process, we leverage our extensive network of colleagues at AFRY, who bring in-depth expertise across various sectors, disciplines and global regions. Their insights support us in sourcing relevant data for diverse materials, products and processes, as well as providing valuable guidance on improvement opportunities.

We also provide tailored solutions to fit your specific needs and goals, whether it's reducing environmental impacts or improving product sustainability. By choosing AFRY as your LCA collaboration partner, you can trust that our team will provide comprehensive and reliable analysis, allowing you to make informed decisions that align with your business objectives.

Additionally, our collaborative approach ensures transparency and effective communication throughout the assessment process, ensuring a smooth and successful partnership.

Footnotes

  • 1. //www.iso.org/standard/37456.html a↩
  • 2. //www.iso.org/standard/38498.html a↩
  • 3. //www.iso.org/standard/71206.html a↩
  • 4. https://www.environdec.com/home a↩