Health and Environment

Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Thinking

Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) seeks to identify possible improvements to goods and services in the form of lower environmental impacts and reduced use of resources across all life cycle stages. LCT takes the entire life cycle into account – from the extraction of natural resources through to material processing, manufacturing, distribution and use; and finally the re-use, recycling, energy recovery and the disposal of remaining waste (cradle to grave approach).

LCT is mentioned in Article 4 (2) of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC):

“When applying the waste hierarchy […] Member States shall take measures to encourage the options that deliver the best overall environmental outcome. This may require specific waste streams departing from the hierarchy where this is justified by life-cycle thinking on the overall impacts of the generation and management of such waste”

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a scientific approach behind LCT. LCA analyses the potential environmental burden of a product or service in its productionuse phase and end-of-life.

CEWEP contributed data on Waste-to-Energy to the European Commission’s European Reference Life Cycle Data System (ELCD).

ELCD is a database available on the European Commission’s website on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which provides stakeholders with LCA data.

The Waste-to-Energy data in the ELCD database can be accessed by selecting “Energy Recycling” in the process search.