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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in Business. An overview on drivers, applications, issues and future perspectives.

  • Authors
    Frankl P.
    Rubik R.
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  • Frankl.pdf
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In recent years, a considerable research effort has been devoted to Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA).
However, most of the work has been focusing on improving the methodology as such and providing
guidelines for carrying out LCA studies. Much less effort has been dedicated to the exploration and
analysis of the applications of LCA within the actual context of business. Which are the drivers for
starting LCA activities in a company? Which are the main applications? Which business departments
are involved? This is the kind of questions addressed by the present paper.
The paper reports the results of a survey about the use of LCA in business in four selected European
Countries, namely Germany, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland. 1600 questionnaires have been sent out to
selected companies in the four countries. As expected, there are considerable differences between
countries because of a different level of environmental awareness. However, there are some main common
results. The first one is that the cultural approach of Life-Cycle-Thinking is spreading out, but not
yet the tool. LCA is not yet used as a routine tool for assessing environmental aspects of product innovation
and it is still rather employed in a retrospective way than in a prospective one. Benefits of LCA
are considered to be rather long-term ones. On the other hand, the large majority of firms is optimistic
about the future use of LCA, most likely linked together with other instruments.

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