Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): a useful tool, but to handle with care*

Increasingly, the focus of politicians, policymakers and industries lies on sustainable development seeking a delicate balance between environmental, social and economical aspects. Life cycle analysis is frequently promoted as a tool to assess environmental impact. While LCA studies are a useful tool, this instrument needs to be handled with care, particularly when used for policy-making purposes. The European Aluminium Association has commissioned a study to analyse four specific LCA exercises in 4 European countries. Two of these four cases concern policy-making in the packaging sector: the well-known "UBA II" in Germany (case 1) and the packaging tax in Denmark (case 2). The 2 others deal with legislative action related to the building sector: the Dutch MRPI initiative (case 3) and the Swiss case on the environmental declaration of building products (case 4).

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Delft, december 2002