Baltic environment, food and health:
from habits to awareness.

Life cycle assessment

Life cycle assessment
Picture: AHHAA

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is tool to study how products and processes affect the environment, from raw material extraction until the product becomes waste or is recycled. In an LCA all the important processes during the products lifecycle, from cradle to grave, are included. ISO 14040 is an international standard for making LCAs.

 

The food and agriculture sector contributes a lot to the environmental impacts caused by human activities. Over the last two decades LCA methodology has been developed and applied in this sector to quantify environmental impacts and assist in decision making. LCA is considered as the primary measurement tool to study the sustainability of food systems and also useful for guiding consumers toward more sustainable food-consumption patterns as the production, transformation, distribution and consumption of food and drink contribute strongly to human well-being and health.

 

Why to use it?

 

LCA can be beneficial for several purposes.

  • Mapping the impact of current products and processes on the environment allows company to concentrate improvement work where it has the greatest effect.
  • To put pressure on the company's suppliers to make more environmentally friendly raw materials.
  • In marketing – LCA allows comparing environmental performance of different products that are used for the same purpose. Also the most reliable ecolabels are based on LCA.
  • In product development phase an LCA can be used for assessing the possible environmental impacts from a product that is under development (eco-design).
Life cycle assessment