Volcy Boilevin

Sustainable development & the 3 life cycle assessments

5 minutes

Nov 22, 2021

Sustainable Development

"Sustainable development is simultaneously societal, environmental, cultural, and economic. These four dimensions are inseparable. Sustainability provides a model for thinking about the future that balances environmental, societal, and economic considerations with a view to improving quality of life."
UNESCO, 2021.

A company concerned about its impact on society must consider each of these components in its activities and decision-making.

Figure 1: Venn diagram of the 3 pillars of sustainable development - Source

How to measure environmental, social, and economic impacts?

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a comprehensive analysis method for assessing the effects of a product or decision on the environmental, social, and economic aspects.

LCA is a standardized tool (ISO 14040 and 14044) that takes into account all stages of the life cycle (from "cradle to grave") of a product or strategy. For example, for the environmental LCA of an electric car, the extraction of energy and non-energy raw materials necessary for the manufacture of all components of the electric car, the distribution and use of the car, the collection and disposal to end-of-life channels, as well as all transport phases will be calculated. LCA is particularly interesting in comparative studies (i.e. electric car vs gasoline car, leather seats vs fabric seats).

There are three types of LCA: environmental LCA (LCA-E), social LCA (LCA-S), and life cycle cost (LCC). These three LCAs combined enable the analysis of sustainability in the life cycle and therefore contribute to the objectives of sustainable development.

What are the options for my business?

Historically, these analyses are conducted by consultants who conclude them with a comprehensive report allowing for the identification of impacts, and ideally guiding future decisions. This provides an excellent snapshot of your business at a specific time, but not ongoing monitoring.

Sapiologie builds a custom web-based product management tool, which integrates with the entire production chain, from suppliers to end-of-life of the product, including manufacturing and use. For each of these stages, environmental, social, and economic life cycle analysis data is calculated, available, and easily visualized. Decision-makers can interactively explore this data, simulate a production change, and its influence on these impacts. Finally, we integrate with an ecosystem of solutions to help you reduce these impacts over time.

If you want to learn more about life cycle assessment and discuss our solutions, contact us!

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