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What is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)?

Before discussing the definition of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), There is a brief story about LCA. The journey of LCA started in 1960's. It started with concerns over the limitations of raw materials and energy resources. It moved people in finding ways to cumulatively account for energy use and to project future resource supplies and use.

The First LCA: Coca Cola in 1969

Figure 1. The First LCA, Case Study in Coca Cola Bottle

In 1969, Coca Cola Company in United States used the current methods of Life Cycle Inventory Analysis for comparing different beverage containers. They want to determine which container had the lowest releases to the environment and least affected the supply of natural resources. That study quantified the raw materials and fuels used and also the environmental loadings from the manufacturing processes for each container.

In 1991, State Attorneys General USA denouncing the use of LCA results to promote products because there were inappropriate usage of LCA results. This action, along with pressure from other environmental organizations to standardise LCA methodology, led to the development of the LCA standards in the International Standards Organization (ISO) 14000 series (1997 through 2002). *This brief history of LCA above is from the paper of Life Cycle Assessment : Principles and Practice by Scientific Applications International Corporation (SAIC).


LCA also called as an analogous to a medical checkup for your products and processes.


Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is the technique for assessing the potential environmental impacts throughout a product's life cycle from raw material acquisition, production, use, distribution to end-of-life treatment.

Figure 2. Product Life Cycle Stages

There are four major steps in doing LCA which have been standardised to ISO 14040:2006 and ISO 14044:2006 (SNI ISO 14040:2016 and SNI ISO 14044:2017 in Indonesia): 1. Goal and Scope Definition – What are we trying to do and learn? 2. Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) – What's embedded in the product? 3. Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) – What effects does it have? 4. Data Interpretation – What does it all mean?

Figure 3. LCA Framework According to ISO 14040:2006 (SNI ISO 14040:2016)

Objectives of LCA

Frank R. Field III and John R. Ehrenfeld

The basic objective of LCA is to guide decision makers, whether consumers, industrialists, or government policy makers, in devising or selecting actions that will minimise environmental impacts while furthering other objectives.

Decision makers must use this tool in concert with traditional criteria for selecting one action over another, including economic, engineering, and social goals.

Benefits of Doing LCA

Life Cycle Approaches ensures that a company or industry doesn’t create improvement in one area at the expense of another. LCA enables carbon footprint calculation and Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) to enhance your product eligibility in the global market.

Figure 4. Enhance Global Market through LCA Based Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) can help you to move towards sustainable development and to build your sustainability report because Life CycleAssessment (LCA) is the metric for sustainable development.

Figure 5. Sustainable Development Goals


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