Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) is an approach that allows companies and producers to have an overview of the production and consumption of a product or service, and to assess impacts throughout its life cycle. It is an approach applicable to any type of business and oriented towards supporting sustainability performance.
The benefits of LCT derive from the fact that, in addition to having a complete picture of the performance of the process (whether environmental, social or economic), it allows to monitor the effects of any changes or measures aimed at optimizing or improving a part of it, so as to verify that these do not cause a shift of impacts to another part of the system, thus compromising the overall performance (the so-called “burden shifting” phenomenon).
LCT is a tool currently applied in decision-making processes, and in the development of industrial or regulatory strategies.
Centrocot promotes its use on all three dimensions of sustainable development (economy, environmental protection and social development), offering comparative studies or aimed at specific certifications.
Life Cycle Assessment
The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, regulated by the ISO 14040 family of standards, allows the assessment of the environmental impacts associated with the life of a product or service, based on the principles of Life Cycle Thinking. This tool makes it possible to analyse the environmental pressures (i.e. emissions, occupation and transformation of the soil, consumption of water and resources) associated with the phases of the product’s life taken into consideration and to quantify their impact through the use of certain indicators (climate warming, eutrophication, water scarcity, incidence of diseases caused by fine dust, human toxicity, eco-toxicity, etc.). A complete study may cover the whole cycle (cradle-to-grave, from cradle to grave) or only the part of production (cradle-to-gate, from cradle to gate) or only one stage of production in the chain (gate-to-gate, from gate to gate). Examples of life cycle stages considered are raw material extraction, material processing, production, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling (end-of-life).
The objective of the LCA is to outline the totality of the interactions of a product or service with the environment, in order to assess the impacts directly or indirectly caused in its life. This tool is useful to give companies themselves and decision-makers (who have the task of defining regulations) the information necessary to define the behaviours and environmental effects of an activity and identify opportunities for improvement in order to achieve the best solutions to intervene on environmental conditions.
Life Cycle Costing
Based on the Life Cycle Thinking approach, Life Cycle Costing (LCC) is a methodology used to estimate costs over the entire life cycle of the product, from production, to use, to the disposal phase, including the costs of purchase and installation, of water and energy (electricity, gasoline, gas), of the service provided and of maintenance, and of end-of-life activities.
This tool is used for financial and investment assessments of the sustainability of your product or service.
The assessment of lifetime costs of goods and services is an important step for those who want to implement GPP policy. The Procurement Code in Article 96 – in transposition of the EU procurement directive (Article 67) – speaks specifically of the LCC.
Social Life Cycle Assessment
The Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) is a tool that can be used to assess social and socio-economic aspects, whether positive or negative, related to the entire life cycle of a product or service. This methodology uses generic or specific data of the reality under examination and can produce both a qualitative and a quantitative analysis.
The S-LCA methodology does not aim to establish whether or not a good should be produced, or whether or not a service should be provided, but rather the information obtained from the results provides decision support and food for thought.
Alongside the LCA and LCC, this type of study integrates the third dimension of sustainability and can be applied either alone or in combination with the two aforementioned studies.