Through an LCA study, companies are able to know in detail the environmental impact of their products, in each lifecycle stage.
LCA is the most essential tool for the implementation of an Integrated Product Policy, as well as the main operational tool of "Life Cycle Thinking": it is a objective method of evaluation and quantification of potential environmental impact associated with a product/process/activity along the entire life cycle, from extraction of raw materials to end of life.
At an international level, the LCA methodology is regulated by ISO standards - 14040's series The strategic importance of adopting the LCA methodology as a scientifically suitable tool for the identification of significant environmental aspects is clearly expressed in the Green Paper COM 2001/68/EC and in the COM2003/302/EC of the Integrated Product Policy, and is recommended, at least indirectly, also within the European Regulations: EMAS(Reg.1221/2009) and Ecolabel (Reg. 61/2010).
The LCA study represents a fundamental support to the development of Environmental Labeling schemes: in definition of the reference environmental criteria for a given group of products (type I ecological labels: Ecolabel), or as the maine tool for obtaining an Environmental Product Declaration: EPD (type III environmental-label).
Potentially therefore its applications are innumerable:
· Development and Product/process improvement; · Environmental Marketing; · Strategic Planning; · Evaluation, even in advance, of the impacts of alternative solutions;
In accordance with the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards, the study of Life Cycle Assessment is divided into four evaluation phases:
·Definition of objectives and scope (ISO 14041) ·Analysis of life cycle inventory (LCI– ISO 14041) ·Assessmentof life cycle impact (LCIA– ISO 1404 -Interpretation (ISO 14043)