Life cycle assessment (LCA)

Life cycle assessment (LCA)

Assessing the environmental impacts of a product, service, business, policy or process

At Ricardo, we conduct life cycle assessments for a wide variety of organisations and products across many sectors. This enables our clients to develop a deeper knowledge of their products in comparison to others on the market and shows them where the most effective changes can be made to improve sustainability. Our deep scientific analysis is helping our clients develop more sustainable products and/or demonstrate their already impressive environmental credentials - so satisfying investors, customers, and other stakeholders.

Our consultants have been performing LCA studies for many years covering a large breadth of products including chemicals, food and drink, vehicles and components, construction products, industrial equipment, lighting, packaging and paper products. We have a SimaPro, GaBi, and WRATE  licence and direct access to the latest EcoInvent online database.

Many clients opt for a high-level scoping LCA initially, and then use the findings to drive and focus follow up investigations. We provide LCA studies that can be targeted at a number of levels and carried out according to the ISO 14040 series of standards:

Product LCA

A streamlined LCA of the top selling or most representative product(s) will quickly reveal the 'hot spots' in the product life-cycle. Interventions can then be assessed for their ability to reduce the most significant uses of energy, water and raw materials, and associated cost savings can be identified.

Product Environmental Footprint (PEF)

In addition to ISO 14040 compliant studies, Ricardo can conduct LCA studies which align to the European Commission’s recommended Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) methodology and related existing category rules.

Intervention LCA

If a particular product or process intervention is being considered, LCA is the best way to ensure that the change will not introduce unexpected environmental impacts.

Social LCA

Many organisations are now using lifecycle thinking to go beyond environmental impacts and consider the social and financial impacts of their products. Ricardo can tailor a plan to suit your organisation, whether you are just starting to investigate social impacts, or already have data and systems in place and want to go further.

Total business LCA

A high-level assessment of the overall business may reveal an unexpected environmental impact profile that, in turn, leads to new directions in business development.

The data and analysis following an LCA study can be used to identify ‘hot spots’ and focus efforts when looking at Resource Efficiency (including Water & Energy) and to target and measure the success of circular economy thinking.

LCA Critical Review

If you have already developed an LCA and intend to publish the results or use it to support marketing claims or comparative assertions, ISO 14044 requires that the LCA study undergoes a third-party critical review process prior to publication.  Ricardo has experienced LCA practitioners who can perform critical reviews according to best practice and international standards, either as an independent expert or as part of a review panel.

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) 

The results of a LCA can be communicated through a comprehensive LCA report or an EPD.  Ricardo Energy & Environment is a corporate member of The International EPD System (IES) and members of our team are approved Individual Verifiers of IES, enabling us to provide a full EPD service. In addition we can support you by going beyond the EPD and provide expertise to manage and mitigate any risks identified. The EPD that we prepared for James Jones can be viewed here; you can also read more about the project in our blog – see below.

Find out more

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Relevant resources

Using life cycle thinking to measure, improve and leverage environmental performance and cost savings

Using life cycle thinking to measure, improve and leverage environmental performance and cost savings

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Understanding your environmental impact to gain maximum profitability in the rail sector

Understanding your environmental impact to gain maximum profitability in the rail sector

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Life cycle assessment and environmental product declarations capability statement

Life cycle assessment and environmental product declarations capability statement

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