Why Good Life Cycle Assessment Data is Important (and Where to Find it)
In the sustainability space, I am sure many of you have heard quite a bit of chatter about Life Cycle Assessment, also known as the practice of modeling a product’s environmental impacts across it’s entire life span.
This practice is important for a number of reasons- reducing environmental impacts, trimming down the size of your Scope 3 carbon portfolio, etc. However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to product marketing.
Corporations are catching on to this highly technical, highly advanced practice because when conducted correctly, LCA’s are the basis for EPD’s- also known as Environmental Product Declarations. I won’t go into a ton of detail (please contact me if you have additional questions), but EPD’s allow you to make environmental marketing claims about your product compared to another.
If an EPD of a smartphone was created, reviewed, and accepted by a verification body, it could allow Apple to say that their iPhone is more green that a certain Android phone, and visa versa.
Along with the branding, nutritional facts, labeling, and (especially) pricing, sustainability metrics will be another way for a consumer to choose between products. And EPD’s, supported by Life Cycle Assessment, and Life Cycle Assessment software tools and data, will be the catalyst for these sustainability metrics. But as I described above, practicing LCA with the correct approach can be challenging.
Additionally, making marketing claims against a competitor can be risky for any brand. Claims needs to have substantial evidence and be validated with extensive data and research. Nobody likes a lawsuit!
This is why having reliable, accurate, and updated data is absolutely crucial when conducting LCA studies with the objective of making a marketing claim.
And in terms of LCA data- the data that powers these studies- there is a lot of questionable data!
While I won’t identify the ones to think you should avoid, here are the scientifically backed LCA databases one should consider:
- US LCI
- GaBi Databases (Disclosure: I work for PE INTERNATIONAL, the providers of this data)
Have questions? Feel free to contact me!
Please keep in my mind that these opinions are strictly my own!