Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an internationally standardised method (ISO 14040) to assess the overall environmental impacts caused by a product or service. LCA can also be used to look at only Greenhouse Gas/Carbon emissions, such as for Greenhouse Friendly or carbon footprinting.

Rather than looking only at a specific part of a life cycle, LCA analyses the whole system of production, from raw material extraction and manufacture through to use and disposal. By taking this holistic view, LCA ensures that all environmental impacts are quantified, and that environmental improvement in one part of the life cycle does not result in shifting the impact to another part.

There are many reasons why LCAs and Greenhouse Gas assessments are undertaken. These include:
  • Gaining an understanding of a product system, to determine where improvements can be made
  • Carbon labelling and product declarations
  • Comparing products and alternative technologies
  • Informing government policy
  • Environmental footprints for products or services