Slovak Environmental Agency

Development of the methods and procedures for environmental life cycle assessment and practical use possibilities

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Courtesy of Slovak Environmental Agency

The report provides the overview of current development activities on life cycle assessment (LCA). It also gives the outline of opinions and assumptions on LCA use in practice, and the relation of LCA research and practical application of LCA.

Respecting the multi-disciplinary character of LCA, it can be the basic framework for environmental assessment consisting of many other techniques (e.g. risk analysis, input-output analysis, EIA). On the other hand, it can be also as a part of such assessment (LCA might be a technique supporting EIA or risk analysis or others). It is clear that in the last decade very extensive research was made as for new methods based on LCA which focus using of empirical models to increase the level of objectivity of LCA. Since LCA needs and requires a big amount of data on the whole life cycle of relevant product and since those data are not available in some countries/regions, it is clear that the use of LCA differs.

The problem with availability of data is about: 1. if they exist, 2. if the quality of existing data is acceptable. That´s why limitation factor of LCA use is mainly the existence and availability of data on high quality, to which the type and character of assessment method must be adapted. Those are reasons why LCA development of specific methodological procedure varies from case to case

The assessment according to LCA may be done for any kind of product, service or technology. Big variety and almost infinite amount of products possible assessed are related to very extensive amount of different methodological procedures based on LCA principle. Current research is aimed at: 1. new procedures development, 2. unification of procedures developed earlier, 3. looking for mutual approaches and solutions, with aim to make LCA as simple as possible under condition to increase the objectivity of LCA.

In spite of continuing research, LCA has been using yet in all areas of environment formation and protection, including waste management. LCA has been integrated into the group of significant tools for sustainable development. The importance and position given over to this field by leading worldwide organizations (SETAC, EEA, US EPA, UK EPA, JRC) indicates that the position and importance of LCA is on the right place. Considerable is also the industry practitioners perspective, since LCA is developed mainly for them.

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