Life Cycle Assessment and Materiality Assessment Part 1 – Should I cry over spilled milk?

I do Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for a living. A lot of people look at my quizzically when I say this. “So… you study butterflies?” Nope, no metamorphosis here. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Life Cycle Assessment is “a tool for the systematic evaluation of the environmental aspects of product or service system through all states of its life cycle.” Or, as I like to explain it in simpler terms, a way to sum up all the environmental impacts from the production, use and disposal of goods and services. The quizzical looks continue. “So, is this a way to tell if a product is better for the environment?” is a common reply. To which I respond with more questions, such as “how do you define better?” and “what environmental aspects are important to you, your company or your customers?” LCA is a method that simply tells you

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