Life ccle assessment


Life cycle assessments (LCAs) are carried out to assess the environmental impact of products in each of these stages:

  • extracting and processing raw materials
  • manufacturing and packaging
  • use and operation during its lifetime
  • disposal at the end of its useful life, including transport and distribution at each stage.
  • Use of water, resources, energy sources and production of some wastes can be fairly easily quantified. Allocating numerical values to pollutant effects is less straightforward and requires value judgements, so LCA is not a purely objective process.

Selective or abbreviated LCAs can be devised to evaluate a product but these can be misused to reach pre-determined conclusions, eg in support of claims for advertising purposes.

Students should be able to carry out simple comparative LCAs for shopping bags made from plastic and paper.

WS 1.3 Appreciate the power and limitations of science and consider any ethical issues which may arise

MS 1a - Recognise and use expressions in decimal form

MS 1c Use ratios, fractions and percentages

MS 1d Make estimates of the results of simple calculations

MS 2a Use an appropriate number of significant figures

MS 4a Translate information between graphical and numeric form