Increasing Credibility of LCA

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Courtesy of 2.-0 LCA consultants

It is important for the future of LCA, as one of the important techniques in environmental management, that LCA results become generally regarded as relevant, reliable, and uncontroversial.

To this end, LCAs must:

    * be understood and perceived as a reasonable basis for decisions by the intended audience,
    * be implemented into decision making and industrial practice without unnecessary controversy,
    * communicate the reliability of their results in terms of uncertainty, based on an assessment of the data quality of the information used,
    * be critically reviewed according to the ISO procedures at a high level of excellence.

Targeting LCA for Decision Making

Some applications of LCA are listed in the current standard ISO 14040:

  • product development and improvement,
  • strategic planning,
  • public policy making,
  • marketing,
  • all applications which have to do with supporting decision making by analysing the consequences of a choice between different alternatives.

Nevertheless, LCA studies often appear without any indication of the consequences of the decision that the LCA is supposed to support. This may lead to serious misinterpretations of the results.

Even when the consequences of the decision is properly analysed and documented, it is still necessary to communicate this to the decision-makers in such a way that the message is understood. Long tables of figures and obscure environmental indicators are not facilitating this. New tools are needed for presenting the information from LCAs in a form readily understandable for the audience. This is equally true for strategic decision-makers, eco-designers and consumers making a choice in a shop. The real challenge is to communicate the LCA results in such a way that the information does not become lost, biased or oversimplified in the process.

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