Deloitte Explores the Business Benefits of Lifecycle Assessment | 2Sustain

Wal-Mart’s recent announcement to begin work on a universal Sustainable Product Index inspired Deloitte’s Enterprise Sustainability group to develop a new whitepaper that explores lifecycle assessment.

The paper, “Lifecycle Assessment: Where is it on your sustainability agenda?” points out that even though the concept of lifecycle assessment (LCA) has been around since the 1980s, it’s only now that U.S. companies are embracing it on a large scale.

At first, LCA may seem like a rather straightforward concept: analyze the raw material production, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal (in other words, all inputs and outputs) of a product so that you can determine its environmental impact. But, as Marc Gunther points out in his excellent post about everyday supermarket apple juice, the calculations involved are anything but simple –thanks to today’s complex global supply chain network.

Complicating matters even more, right now, there isn’t a standard accepted methodology for LCA. That means assessments can be challenging, time-consuming, and expensive.

So, does it make sense for companies to invest the time and resources to determine LCA for their products? Are there instances when LCA can deliver real business benefits?

Deloitte deep dives into these questions and concludes that LCA can be both powerful and beneficial –when used wisely. According to the paper, companies that use LCA can realize:

  • growth and innovation
  • cost savings
  • internal alignment
  • regulatory preparedness
  • corporate reputation
  • risk reduction

But even so, it’s clear that LCA cannot stand alone. In order to reap the biggest benefits, organizations need to incorporate LCA into their overall strategy for sustainability.

“LCA can be a core enabler of business decision made in the name of sustainability, but it is only one component of a broader sustainability performance management agenda which could include stakeholder engagement, improved information management systems to automate environmental performance data capture, and external reporting that follows the Global Reporting Initiative’s guidelines,” the report concludes. “Companies who succeed in integrating LCA with existing decision-making frameworks can achieve smarter sustainability.”

Learn even more by reading all of the six-page whitepaper available at Assets/Documents/us_es_LifecycleAssessment.pdf



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