From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published January 21, 2010 03:39 PM

Product Life Cycle Analysis

How good or how bad is a product from a green carbon footprint point of view? Several well known corporations like Airbus, Levi Strauss & Co., 3M, DuPont, and Kraft Foods are volunteering to road test a full life cycle greenhouse gas analysis on a wide range of products from blue jeans to manufactured steel.

A life cycle analysis studies all the potential contributions to a carbon footprint and includes supplier, transportation, production and disposal. This concept is also related to environmental sustainability.

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The Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard and the Scope 3 (Corporate Value Chain) Accounting and Reporting Standard, provides innovative methods to measure a product's full life cycle emissions is the planned method to be used. In all sixty corporations have been chosen to participate.

The standard was developed with a multi-stakeholder, consensus based process to develop greenhouse gas accounting and reporting standards with participation from businesses, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and academic institutions from around the world.  This draft standard was developed between January and October 2009 by two technical working groups collectively comprised of over 70 members from a diversity of businesses, government agencies, NGOs, and academic institutions.

"We are encouraged by the overwhelming response from the private sector seeking to road test the new standards. There were more than 120 applications across a broad array of sectors and regions worldwide. The road testing will provide critical input in ensuring that the standards generate credible and meaningful data for business and government decision makers, while considering the practical challenges that businesses and programs will face during implementation," said Jonathan Lash in a press release. Lash is president of the World Resources Institute, which developed the standards along with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The new standards will also allow companies to look at the greenhouse gas emissions of their full corporate value chain, including supplier manufacturing, outsourced activities, and the products' ultimate consumption.

The goal of life cycle analysis is to compare the full range of environmental and social damages assignable to products and services, and then to be able to choose the least burdensome one. At present it is a way to account for the effects of the cascade of technologies responsible for goods and services.

The term life cycle refers to the notion that a fair, holistic assessment requires the assessment of raw material production, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal including all intervening transportation steps necessary or caused by the product's existence. The sum of all those steps is the life cycle of the product. The concept also can be used to optimize the environmental performance of a single product.

Common categories of assessed damages are global warming (greenhouse gases), acidification, smog, ozone layer depletion, eutrophication, eco-toxicological and human-toxicological pollutants, habitat destruction, desertification, land use as well as depletion of minerals and fossil fuels.

The procedures of life cycle assessment are also part of the ISO 14000 environmental management standards.

The whole list of the companies doing the present testing include: 3M Company; Acer Inc.; Airbus S.A.S.; AkzoNobel; Alcan Packaging; Alcoa; Autodesk, Inc.; Baoshan Iron & Steel Co. Ltd.; BASF SE; Belkin International; Bloomberg LP; BT Plc; CA, Inc.; Coca-Cola Entfrischungsgetränke AG; Colors Fruit SA (Pty) Ltd.; Deutsche Post AG; DuPont; Eclipse Networks (Pty) Ltd.; Ecolab; The Estee Lauder Company; Ford Motor Company; General Electric; U.S. General Services Administration; Highways Agency (UK); Hydro Tasmania; IBM; IKEA; Italcementi Group; JohnsonDiversey, Inc.; Kraft Foods; Lenovo Corporation; Levi Strauss & Co.; Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation; National Grid; Natura Cosméticos; New Belgium Brewing Co.; Otarian; Pinchin Environmental Ltd.; PricewaterhouseCoopers (Hong Kong); Procter & Gamble Eurocor; Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc.; Rogers Communications, Inc.; SC Johnson; Shanghai Zidan Food Packaging & Printing Co., Ltd.; Shell International Petroleum Company Ltd; Swire Beverages (Coca-Cola Bottling Partner); TAL Apparel Limited; Tech-Front (Shanghai) Computer Co., Ltd./Quanta Shanghai Manufacturing City; Tennant Company; Veolia Water; VT Group Plc; Webcor Builders and WorldAutoSteel.

For further information: http://www.wri.org/stories/2008/11/measuring-ghg-emissions-up-and-down-supply-chain or http://news.mongabay.com/2010/0120-hance_lifecycle.html

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