The LCA Framework1

International organizations, like SETAC and ISO, have worked on the harmo­nization of LCA methodology.

Life cycle assessment is defined by ISO 140401 as “compilation and evalu­ation of inputs, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle.” The ISO standards regulate the procedural aspects of LCA. They do not, however, provide all the information required for carrying out an LCA study. The main phases of LCA are goal and scope definition, inventory, impact assessment, and interpretation. The various ap­plications of LCA are not regulated by the standard (Fig. 15.1).

There is no single method applicable for conducting all LCAs. As it de­pends on the goal and scope, the level of detail, system borders, and data

The LCA Framework1

FIGURE 15.1 Phases of an LCA study.

Sources, choice of focus can vary considerably. An LCA is in many ways an iterative procedure. The goal and scope may be redefined at any stage if mo­tives arise from any of the phases. A complementary inventory may have to be carried out, if it is required by the findings in impact assessment or in the interpretation phases.