Life-cycle assessment (LCA

Life-cycle assessment (LCA, also known as life-cycle analysis, eco-balance, and cradle-to-grave analysis) is defined by scholars as a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life from cradle to grave (i.e., from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling). A great deal of waste is generated through human activities — approximately 40 tons/year per person in the United States. This represents lost resources as well as results in environmental degradation. Thoughtful consumption can play a part in creating a sustainable future. Knowing more about the items we use and throw away can help us become smarter, more empowered consumers with the skills to reduce our ecological footprint. For this project, students will research a product and write a general LCA.

Required Reading

The following resources contain examples and detailed process on how to undertake an LCA.

  • “Hamburger, Fries & Soda” provides an example of an LCA
  • “Life Cycle Analysis Assignment Research Process” gives information on how to undertake an LCA
  • Watch the following video – Life cycle of a t-shirt
  • Library resources


The LCA project contains

    1. The outline should include the following:
      1. Introduction
        1. Objectives – State the reason why you are doing the LCA
        2. Identify the product that you will analyze (functional unit)
      2. Body
        1. Identify basic information for the five life cycle stages (raw materials, manufacturing, distribution, consumption, and disposal)
        2. Explain impacts in the three key factors (environmental, social, and economic)
      3. Conclusion
        1. Summarize your overall analysis
      4. Recommendations
        1. Give recommendations on reducing the impacts of the product
        2. Give two examples of organizations or companies that are working towards or offering options that reduce the impacts of the product
      5. Reference
        1. At least 3 credible sources
          1. 2 sources need to be peer-reviewed articles
    2. The final written draft should be composed in professional, clean formatting and include the following
      1. 2-4 pages report based on your outline and feedback provided
        1. Your draft should include an introduction, Life Cycle Inventory (Data Collection for the five stages including inputs and outputs), Life Cycle Analysis (include how your inventory relates to the social, economic, and environmental factors), Life Cycle Improvement and Highlights (your conclusions and recommendations).
        2. Add all your citations and use your own words and thinking, otherwise you are plagiarizing
      2. Cover page and reference page (not included in page count)
        1. References should be written in APA format