Has your company undergone an LCA? A what, you ask! A Life Cycle Assessment is like the routine breast/prostate exam that every woman/man needs to have to ensure good health and, in the case of the LCA, good standing among its customers.
What exactly is involved in an LCA is discussed in the recent white paper called The Full Life Cycle: Creating Value Through Demonstrable Environmental Performance. It references a 2009 study by AT Kearney that showed publicly held companies had far better stock valuations than their peers, even amid the recession, if they were found to be socially responsible. In fact, over six months, the performance differential across 99 companies in the study was a whopping 15 percent.
Of course, to be environmentally credible to clients and customers alike, a company must back its bold claims with solid research. What’s one of the best ways to gauge the real, environmental impacts of the goods and services it offers? A LCA.
Here are the four phases:
1. Goal and Scope Definition Phase
2. Inventory Analysis Phase
3. Impact Assessment Phase
4. Interpretation Phase
Other environmental management techniques — such as “risk assessment, environmental performance evaluation, environmental auditing, and environmental impact assessment” — exist that may address certain economic or social aspects of a product that the LCA does not, but an LCA can achieve one or more of the following goals:
1. Determine where the waste resides in order to create an action plan for greater efficiencies.
2. Inform the key decision-makers in both governmental and non-governmental bodies.
3. Gain a competitive advantage in a specific market or give the consumer the ability to make meaningful product comparisons.
4. Examine the impact of redesigning a production process.
5. Determine the company’s total environmental impact and the plan for continuous improvement in this area.