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Approaching Life Cycle Impact Assessment

This post is part of a series in anticipation of the Sustainable Brands 2011 conference of which 3p is a media partner.

Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCA) is the comprehensive method used to account for all ecological and human health impacts of a product or process over its entire lifecycle. It accounts for emissions, habitat alteration, and resource depletion associated with all product inputs and, as a result, is considered the most comprehensive and objective impact measurement system today. This entirely quantitative approach is a framework used for assessing solutions and evaluating materials and energy usage. Because of its highly detailed process of measurement, it can be a time-consuming and expensive process.
Although LCA has emerged as a valuable decision-support tool for both policy makers and industry in assessing cradle-to-grave products and processes, it can also be challenging and frustrating to the designer or marketer who is faced with balancing choices and making tradeoffs in areas such as market position and price point. Furthermore, the pressure is on to track more than just a brand’s environmental impact.  Social and governance issues are also becoming key to log and communicate.

Sustainability is all about choices and preserving our current choices for future generations. In business, choosing to increase energy efficiency of a product can sometimes mean higher design costs. Extending product life can often times leads to a reduction in new product sales. Even choosing local producers over foreign ones can sometimes lead to fewer choices and less selection leading to fewer customer needs being met. As one digs further and further into the implications of LCA, business and design decisions and tradeoffs become more complex. What is a company to do? Every decision made along a product’s development cycle results in a particular impact on the environment or human health. How does a business decide where and when to invest in LCA outcomes?

Leading companies are taking the time to understand the significance of product lifecycle assessments, what the data means, and how balancing choices and making trade-offs can translate into positive and profitable business results. At SB’11, join this discussion and learn from a wide range of perspectives – from brands themselves, strategists, and solutions providers such as SAP, Source 44, BASF and others, as they discuss how product impact can be tracked, applied to real world product and process design situations, and ultimately translated into a go to market strategy that creates business and brand benefit.

SB’11 is where the conversation continues on how LCA can be applied to leverage brand value and drive sustainable innovation.

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