Life cycle assessment: why and how?

Life cycle assessment: why and how?

Life cycle assessment: why and how? 1920 1080 Altyor

Bastien Spinella, manager of the Design for tomorrow program at Altyor, explains everything about life cycle assessment.

First of all, can you explain what life cycle assessment is?

Life cycle assessment or LCA is the most advanced tool for making a global, multi-criteria assessment of a product’s entire manufacturing and use cycle. LCA is a standardized method that complies with ISO 14 040 and ISO 14044 standards. Altyor has a software program called EIME to perform the life cycle assessment.

How is LCA multi-criteria?

We also look at several stages of the life cycle: the manufacturing of all the parts of a product, the transportation that is used to transport these parts. As well as the unit parts or the finished product. We also look at the use, so what the product consumes during its use by the consumer in terms of energy. Finally, we analyze the end-of-life phase: how the product is reprocessed, when it is no longer used, when it is thrown away. Do we manage to recycle it? Has it been thrown away or incinerated?

“When analyzing the life cycle, we look at several criteria, such as global warming, the depletion of natural resources, water consumption and land pollution. “

What are the steps to carry out a life cycle analysis on a product?

The first step is to make an inventory of all the components of the chosen product (electronic and mechanical components as well as packaging). We also list the transport flows necessary for its production and distribution, its operating modes and consumables used during its use phase. Finally, we determine the end-of-life treatment of each component. This inventory is then used to carry out the life cycle analysis by matching each of the elements to modules in a database that allows the environmental impacts of the product to be calculated over its entire life cycle. The results are then analyzed, and the Altyor team proposes actions for improvement to reduce the environmental impact.

Who can benefit from the life cycle assessment?

Altyor offers this service to all of its clients, as well as to anyone interested in modeling the environmental impacts of a product (plastics/electronics). The modeling can also be limited to a simplified one-step comparison of different scenarios.

What are the results extracted from this study?

The results extracted from this study are the environmental impacts of the product, modeled through 19 indicators developed by the European Commission and called Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and based on the EN 15804+A2 standard.

The study thus makes it possible to quantify the impact of the product. It is also interesting to be able to identify the phases or main components that contribute to the overall impact and to target improvement actions.

“In general, the use of recycled materials can greatly reduce the impact of the manufacture of plastic parts, which is why Altyor is committed to this approach.”

Do you have a concrete example to share with us?

We conducted a life cycle assessment of the Octan remote control from NodOn, an Altyor subsidiary. This LCA made it possible to identify the phase of the product’s life cycle that has the greatest impact, that of production, and more specifically the parts that contribute the most. A simple solution for reducing the product’s life cycle impact immediately emerged: produce plastic parts from recycled plastic. The smart home and smart building expert is in the process of implementing this approach.

What is the next step for Altyor?

In 2020, 26% of the plastic used for our customers was recycled material. Our goal for 2022 is to double this figure. We also want to promote this life cycle analysis to all our customers. Finally, we want to continue to generalize eco-design techniques to all our customers’ products.
All these steps are part of our ‘Design for tomorrow’ commitment that you can find on our website.

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