Life Cycle Assessment

Life cycle refers to the cradle-to-grave stages associated with the production, use, and disposal of any product. A complete life cycle assessment (LCA), or ecobalance, consists of three complementary components:

Inventory analysis, which is a technical, data-based process of quantifying energy and resource use, atmospheric emissions, waterborne emissions, and solid waste Impact analysis, which is a technical, quantitative, and qualitative process to characterize and assess the effects of the resource use and environmental loadings identified in the inventory state Improvement analysis, which is the evaluation and implementation of opportunities to effect environmental improvement

Scoping is one of the first activities in any LCA and is considered by some as a fourth component. The scoping process links the goal of the analysis with the extent, or scope, of the study (i.e., that will or will not be included).

The following factors should also be considered when the scope is determined: basis, temporal boundaries (time scale), and spatial boundaries (geographic).

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