LCA is a tool for quantifying the environmental performance of products taking into account the complete life cycle, starting from the production of raw materials to the final disposal of the products, including material recycling if needed.
The most important applications for an LCA are:
- Identification of improvement opportunities through identifying environmental hot spots in the life cycle of a product.
- Analysis of the contribution of the life cycle stages to the overall environmental load, usually with the objective of prioritizing improvements on products or processes.
- Comparison between products for internal or external communication, and as a basis for environmental product declarations.
- The basis for standardized metrics and the identification of Key Performance Indicators used in companies for life cycle management and decision support.
LCA provides the quantitative and scientific basis for all these activities. In many cases, LCA feeds the internal and external discussions and communication. Being active in LCA means being able to communicate the environmental impacts of products and business processes. This manual provides an introduction to the LCA methodology and explains how you can carry out an LCA using SimaPro, the world’s most widely used LCA software.
How this introduction manual is written
This introduction provides general information about the background of the life cycle assessment methodology, and provides suggestions on how to perform an LCA study. It can be read without having SimaPro in front of you. Chapters 2 to 5 describe the LCA methodology in general. Apart from some text boxes, these chapters make no direct reference to SimaPro. Chapter 6 describes organizational aspects of LCA, while chapters 7 to 10 deal with the way you model life cycles in SimaPro.
Once we have introduced you to the most important concepts and the LCA terminology, we suggest that you start SimaPro and experiment with the software. We have invested a lot of effort in developing help texts. If you want to know more, press F1 to get help on the issue you are currently dealing with.