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This blog combines articles from ADEC ESG Solutions, as well as FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS), an ADEC Innovation.

Incorporating the Value of Life Cycle Assessment in Your Business

Posted by Jeni Centner on Apr 23, 2014 9:00:00 AM

green_tie_lowFor quite some time, firms in the financial and food products sectors have reaped the benefits of investing in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to achieve their sustainability goals. Industrial companies have also begun to realize the challenges and opportunities of LCA in the environment where they operate and in the stages of their products’ lifecycle.

What is LCA and why go through it?

Deloitte defines LCA as “a methodology that is designed to help businesses measure and quantify the end-to-end environmental and economic impacts of a product, process, or service.” With a step by step analysis of the product cycle from the point of raw material acquisition until it is processed, manufactured & assembled, sold & used, and recovered for re-use and remanufacturing,  LCA is able to track materials and energy consumption, product usage impact, as well as waste and pollution. Upon its completion, the organization’s sustainability core planners can get a macroscopic view of the business’ impact on both environmental and economic issues; thus, they can make tough but well-informed strategic and tactical decisions.

Take for example, SKF, a supplier of products and solutions in the rolling bearing business. Their LCA assessments benefited them greatly by helping them achieve a better understanding of where to focus their efforts in regards to effectively mitigating climate change and developing product and service portfolios. To help them set new targets and climate strategies for 2012, SKF decided to perform a number of life cycle assessments on their products. The LCAs helped discover new opportunities, but they also presented new challenges such as identifying and managing trade-offs. For example, while SKF was reducing one environmental impact through the use of energy saving bulbs, they were increasing another – because these bulbs contain mercury, a very harmful element to the environment. Through the LCA findings, SKF launched its Beyond Zero Portfolio and was able to identify process inputs and outputs that made SKF validate their global warming potential among others. In the long run, SKF was able to innovate and present more sustainable industrial solutions to the market.

How to take advantage of LCA in grogreen-recycle-arrows_fyFSfE_u_Lwing your respective businesses:

1. Identify the company’s sustainability goals: What the company wants to achieve will dictate the magnitude of work that must be placed, and the extent of the data that must be extracted.

2. Draw up the corporate sustainability action plan: How will your organization do it? What tools do you need? Who should be involved? These are only a few of the questions your planners might want to consider in drawing up your road map.

In identifying the parties who should be involved, the business’ sustainability planners should not only look at internal stakeholders but also must include external stakeholders like suppliers. By notifying them of your LCA, they will be prepared and helpful in providing inputs to reports. Companies should also be willing to collaborate with suppliers to innovate solutions that address the identified impacts later through the findings.

3. Evaluate and cascade timely findings: Encouraging engagement involves keeping all stakeholders informed. The magic of corporate communications is very vital in “keeping the fire burning” and encouraging everyone’s active involvement and participation.

FirstCarbon Solutions’ (FCS) Life Cycle Assessment services go beyond assessing carbon footprint and GHG emissions to encompass water, waste, and a full spectrum of natural resources throughout the supply chain. As a reliable partner, firms coming from various industries can outsource their administrative tasks and data entry components of their LCA to FCS. Click on the link below to request a consultation with our corporate sustainability experts today.

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