Life Cycle Assessment - King Customer Buys by Click

Oct 24, 2023
How does my consumption affect the environment? How can I reduce my use of resources and carbon footprint? Questions like these are being asked not only by consumers, but also by companies and governments. The latter are increasingly committing themselves to making informed decisions in the interest of sustainability. To achieve these often ambitious goals, trustworthy and comparable information about the respective product is essential. Life cycle assessments (LCA), Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) as well as the carbon footprint serve as proof of a company’s commitment to zero emissions and the circular economy, and they also provide valid data for a sustainability roadmap.

A look at the entire life cycle assessment

The LCA records all direct and indirect environmental impacts of a product over its entire life cycle — from raw material extraction to disposal. It is an important tool to measure, evaluate, and subsequently optimize the environmental performance of products, allowing them to be compared with each other. As a neutral third party, DEKRA relies on tried-and-tested methodological approaches to model energy and resource consumption, air and water emissions as well as waste generation.
Our critical reviews and verifications evaluate the selection of data sets and the quality of the data the LCAs are based on in order to draw conclusions. A critical review consists of:
  • 1. compliance with general requirements, such as compliance of the applied method with ISO 14040/44, scientific justification, use of appropriate data, clear structure, comprehensible interpretation of results, etc.
  • 2. special requirements for external communication such as the objective of the study, the scope of the study, life cycle inventory, impact assessment, interpretation, etc.
Through verification, we check the LCA for plausibility and thus avoid errors. In addition, we ensure that the study is easy to understand and all claims can be substantiated. This prevents greenwashing and supports the credibility of the LCAs. The DEKRA experts conduct assessments based on international standards such as:
  • ISO 14040/14044
  • Greenhouse Gas Protocol
  • PAS 2050
  • Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)

The life cycle assessment’s “little sister”

The product carbon footprint is often referred to as the LCA’s “little sister”. It is used to determine the total amount of greenhouse gases that the product emits directly and indirectly throughout its entire life cycle. This also contains other gases which are then converted into CO2 equivalents. This information is the basis for possible optimization measures with the goal of decarbonization (CO2 reduction or compensation). This is based on the standard ISO 14067 “Greenhouse gases — Carbon footprint of products — Requirements and guidelines for quantification” (ISO 14067:2018).

Focusing on the building sector: Environmental Product Declarations

Environmental Product Declarations are based on life cycle assessment methodology according to ISO 14040/44 and the more specific standards ISO 14025 and EN 15804. They serve as a uniform and fact-based information basis for assessing the sustainability of products. EPDs provide a detailed product description along with information on the resources used, energy consumption, emissions, waste volume and other environmental impacts throughout the entire life cycle of the product. This information is presented in the form of quantitative data and, in some cases, qualitative statements. EPDs are in particularly high demand in the building sector and are increasingly required in public tenders. They also serve as the basis for the sustainability certification of buildings. In addition to building materials, it is also possible to create EPDs for other products such as food, textiles or consumer goods and publish them in international databases.

Critical review by a neutral third party

As neutral subject matter experts, DEKRA specialists conduct a critical review of the relevant data and evaluations or, in the instance of comparative studies, head critical review panels composed of a group of independent professionals. Based on this, the company can subsequently implement measures to optimize the product life cycle. This is how DEKRA strengthens confidence in the validity of ecolabels and sustainability claims.