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
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.
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