Figure 2. Life-cycle assessment framework as laid
down in ISO 14040:1997
Whilst extra elements have been added, it is clear that the sequence inventory ® interpretation ® improvement (as depicted in Figure 1) remains a core component.
Over the last ten years there has been a rapid expansion in the demand for and use of LCAs, fuelled by both industry and Governments. For industry, a major use is in characterising current operating practices with a view towards how industry stands in relation to current and proposed legislative measures. A series of LCAs performed by any company over consecutive years will fully determine that companys operating practices as well as establishing manufacturing trends. For Government, awareness of the implications of proposed legislation, especially when the effects may counter those originally intended, can help in usefully amending legislation before it is adopted. A suitable example of this is the setting of realistic recycling targets.
For enterprises in rapidly emerging economies, a ready access to up-to-date technologies and know-how is vital. Joint ventures with companies in the West for such an access is now an established approach. For the interested companies, particularly in large and populous countries such as India and China, an ideal selling point would be the demonstration of their full awareness of the environmental aspects of their operations and adherence to regulations. This is where LCA, as an internationally accepted methodology for establishing full environmental credentials, would be invaluable. Equally, the application of LCA as a management tool could identify optimum strategies for interested companies in becoming resource and energy efficient to international standards.Top of page ISO14041
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