Why Life cycle Assessment?
Life cycle analysis (LCA) is a systemic approach that can be used to assess the environmental impacts of a product or process from cradle to grave, or from the extraction of raw materials to final disposition at the end of life. Applied to waste management, LCA allows us to evaluate the environmental impacts and trade-offs of different management approaches and is a very useful tool in helping communities, governments and industry make sound decisions in advancing more sustainable waste management. Because LCA looks far beyond an inventory at a single facility, it can consider emissions and energy savings associated with waste management practices that occur at different locations or even over different time periods. For waste to energy, it allows us to quantify the positive and negative impacts of not only the energy recovery process itself, but also the benefits that accrue from avoiding landfill disposal, recovering metals for recycling, and displacing grid-connecting electrical generation.