chapter  13
17 Pages

Life Cycle Assessment

Methods and Opportunities
WithLineker Max Goulart Coelho, Liséte Celina Lange

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a technique used to assess the environmental impacts based on the evaluation of potential environmental impacts associated with an inventory of inputs and outputs of a system (International Standardization Organization – ISO 14040, 2006). According to Kaazke et al. (2013), LCA is a holistic approach that 218considers environmental impacts from virgin material extraction and processing, to usage and final destination. So, the main feature related to LCA approach is the fact that it provides a procedure to quantitatively determine the whole impact involved in a process, activity, or system. LCA method is based on four main steps: goal and scope definition, Life Cycle Inventory (LCI), Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA), and results interpretation. Goal and scope consist of clearly defining the aim of the study and system boundaries. LCI comprises activities related to the determination of energy and mass fluxes in the system analyzed. LCIA, in turn, involves the conversion of LCI data to impacts in predefined categories based on the characterization factors that relate substances consumption or emission with an effect to an impact category. Finally, results interpretation encompasses activities related to results discussion and analysis. It is important to note that life cycle thinking was initially developed to evaluate only environmental impacts. Subsequently, some variants like Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) were developed to consider economic and social effects, respectively.