LCA stands for Life Cycle Assessment. It is a measurement of the environmental impact of a product or service and is typically expressed in terms of weight of carbon.
Life cycle analysis is a blend of science and art. At the back end of the process are complex databases for all the energy, toxins, water and green house gas emissons used by thousands of materials, processes and transportation options.
The skill comes in knowing how to input the data and express it in a manner that gives a true reflection of the environmental impact. For example a disposable coffee cup impacts on the environment far less than a ceramic cup, when it’s just based on a single use. However ceramic cups are designed to be used multiple times so when you compare one ceramic cup to 200 disposable cups the balance shifts and the ceramic cup is less damaging environmentally.
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