Among other benefits, an LCA can highlight value chain efficiency opportunities and identify areas in the value chain that need improvement. What it cannot do is measure product performance, address compliance with environmental laws, provide risk assessment analysis or define a specific course of action to take. “Organizations need to ask themselves, ‘What are we trying to accomplish? What questions are we answering, and who will use the results?’” said Jakubcin. “Take into consideration the availability of primary company-sourced data as well as secondary data available publicly or for purchase. The data must be as close as possible to what you are producing, and it has to be timely.”

According to Levy, the world of LCA is expanding exponentially and the role of regulating communities is increasing: “Universities, associations, government entities and certifying organizations for ISO are all trying to get their hands around LCA – it is exploding.”