J. Dettling, Y. Loerincik, M. Margni, O. Jolliet
life cycle assessment, LCA, sustainability, assessment, company, Green-e
Sustainability is rapidly increasing in emphasis among the world’s leading companies. There is increasing pressures on companies to understand and be able to communicate the impacts of their products and activities. This pressure comes internally-from executives, boards and shareholders-as well as externally-from customers, business partners and governments. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) offers a robust and comprehensive approach to quantify broadly-defined impacts, but is usually limited in scope to a set of products or services. At the level of the entire company, similar methods and tools are not readily available. This makes it difficult to answer simple questions such as: What is the overall impact or “footprint” of our company on the environment? What meaningful goals can we set for overall company sustainability? How can we achieve these goals? Are we being successful? Here we present a methodology for answering these questions by applying approaches developed in the field of LCA to the activities of entire companies. The methodology calculates the complete environmental impacts of material and service purchases, the company’s own operations and activities, and the distribution, use and end-of-life of its products and/or services. The result is a complete and clear picture of the total environmental impacts in a format that is easily-understood and suitable for communications, setting and tracking of goals, and identifying actions to improve a company’s performance in key sustainability metrics, such as climate change, ecological damage, and human health.