Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
An LCA study involves a thorough inventory of the energy and materials that are required across the industry value chain of the product, process or service, and calculates the corresponding emissions to the environment. Typically, the following stages are considered:
Raw material acquisition: This stage includes the extraction and transportation of raw materials, such as ores, minerals, and biomass.
Manufacturing: This stage includes the processing and transformation of raw materials into intermediate and final products. It also includes the packaging of the products and their transportation to the next stage.
Use phase: This stage includes the use of the product by the end-user, including energy consumption and any maintenance required.
End of life: This stage includes the disposal of the product, either through recycling, landfill, incineration, or any other means of waste management.
Transportation: Transportation can occur in different stages of the life cycle. The environmental impacts associated with transportation can be quantified by taking into account factors such as distance travelled, mode of transportation (e.g. truck, train, ship, plane), fuel type, and vehicle efficiency.
The specific stages considered in an LCA study may vary depending on the scope and goal of the study, as well as the nature of the product or process being evaluated.
There are many interpretations of the scope and depth of the LCA methodology. One of the most used guidelines is ISO 14040 & ISO 14044, and EN15804 for the building industry. These are often supplemented with industry-specific calculation rules (for packaging PCR 2019:13). The European Union is also putting efforts into a standardized method for product environmental footprints (PEF), but that is still under development.
Why is the eco score of Pickler LCA-based and not LCA?
Although the LCA methodology is very well thought through, the time and efforts dedicated to put together a formal life cycle assessment is enormous and requires either in-house expertise or the support from a LCA expert. Moreover, the required data is often missing. Therefore it leads to a poor industry adoption rate of approximately <1% and therefore not able to make a significant shift in the prevention of climate change.
Together with the non-profit organization Sustainability Impact Metrics, Pickler developed a transparent LCA-based methodology that finds the environmental footprint of each of the life cycle stages. With technology, Pickler helps the user on their way and finds automatically the necessary environmental data with the packaging product information.
The methodology is compatible with the existing standards but uses a more practical and cost-effective method, making LCA accessible also for the remaining >99% of the packaging industry.
This does not mean that the calculations are less accurate. Read more about the accuracy of Pickler here.