How is Life Cycle analysis carried out?
First of all, the “life cycle” of the product or process must be defined and the boundaries set.
It could be a “cradle-to-grave” analysis, starting with the extraction or procurement of the basic resources and ending with disposal at the end of the product’s life.
It could also be a stage or process during the life of a product. For example:
Pro Carton’s analysis of the fossil Carbon Footprint of an average tonne of cartonboard produced and converted is based on a “cradle-to-gate” analysis. This starts with the forest and ends at the exit gate of the carton converter.
Once the boundaries have been defined, then an audit is made of everything crossing the boundary, which is needed in the processing of the product: i.e. the “inputs” such as raw materials, energy, chemicals, water. This is followed by an audit of everything leaving the cycle: i.e. the “outputs” including the product and all by-products generated in the processing. The environmental impact of the product and all the by-products generated by way of emissions to air, to water or as solid waste, is then assessed.
Many of the measurable features are already subject to environmental statutory controls in the manufacture of cartonboard and folding cartons.
What is an EPD?
An Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) is a document which describes the environmental impact of the product, following an agreed format.
EPDs provide LCA-based information and additional information on the environmental aspects of products and thus assist purchasers and users to make informed comparisons between products.
Environmental declarations are primarily intended for use in business-to-business (B2B) communication, and aim to encourage the demand and supply of those products that cause less stress on the environment.
EPDs are applicable for all types of products and services within clearly defined product categories. Within their category, products are comparable – because the information given in EPDs is collected and calculated on internationally accepted and harmonised calculation rules. These rules are called Product Category Rules (PCR).
What is Life Cycle data?
Life Cycle data measures environmental factors.
The amount of resources, the ways in which they are used in the manufacture of a product and the residual materials generated during processing and at the end of a product’s life, can be measured by means of a life cycle analysis.
A list of these factors is called a Life Cycle Inventory (LCI).
A Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is defined as an audit of the resources used by a product or process, and an assessment of the impact that it has on the environment.