Which technological solutions are available to carry out an LCA?

Marie Voyer
April 2024

1. How does a LCA software function ? 

Life Cycle Assessment software enables users to model all the flows that compose a product, and to calculate the environmental impacts that it generates, either globally or in great detail, flow by flow.
The software is enhanced by an environmental database that enables different impact scenarios to be integrated.

The combination of the LCA software calculator and the environmental database provides the various impacts generated by the modelled product.

Example: One kilogram of steel mined in Europe represents the following environmental impacts, according to the European PEF methodology.

1.1 What is a flow in Life Cycle Assessment?

A flow represents everything that comes into play in the life of a product, and everything that is released by the product and its life cycle, we talk about input and output flows.

  • Examples of input flows: raw materials used in the manufacture of product parts, energy consumption linked to assembly, transport or use.
  • Examples of output flows: GHG emissions linked to product transport, residual waste linked to use or end of life, liquid discharges, etc.

Each of these flows will therefore have a direct impact on the environmental indicators calculated by the software.

1 .2 How do I model my flows?

Each flow is entered in the input or output category.
Flows can, for example, represent a material and a transformation process, as well as a mass, a quantity, and a more or less precise geolocation.
→ 2 units of 27kg of hot-rolled steel from Europe.

It can also be a transport flow, an end-of-life process such as recycling or landfill, the product's energy consumption during use, etc.

2. Which technological tools are needed to carry out my LCAs?

2.1 Databases

2.1.1 Free databases

Empreinte database: This brand new French database is a merger of the Impacts database and the Carbon database, published by ADEME. This unique new database gives stakeholders access to all the data they need to produce environmental labels for their products. It is however limited in terms of depth of analysis.

Ecosystem database: Published by the eco-organisation in charge of managing the end-of-life of our EEEs, ecosystem has set up a freely accessible database that includes all the flows linked to this Life Cycle Stage.

ELCD: a project that was unfortunately abandoned in 2019, ELCD or the European Reference Life Cycle Database was intended to be the reference database for the countries of the European Community.

2.1.2 Databases available for a fee

CODDE: this Bureau Veritas database has the advantage of being very comprehensive, and is supplied by the trade unions. However, it is only accessible in a closed environment, within EIME, the software published by Bureau Veritas (see below).

GaBi: this database, which now operates solely in a closed environment in the same way as CODDE, is only accessible via the eponymous software. With a multi-sectoral approach, it covers no fewer than 14 verticals and data types, from automotive to packaging, including chemical components and food.

Ecoinvent: This database is recognised as being the most comprehensive on the market! It can be used to carry out studies in various sectors such as energy, construction, electronics, metals, etc. It is published by an association of the same name, which aims to make environmental data accessible. It is also compatible with various LCA software packages, making it easier to use across the board.

2.2 LCA softwares

Here are a few examples of Life Cycle Assessment softwares.‍

EIME: Published by Bureau Veritas, this is one of the most widely used software packages in use today. In existence since 1994, it offers various modelling and analysis functions. This software is also the only access point to the CODDE database.

GaBi : Software from Sphera, a long-standing player in the LCA sector, it enables specialist players and experts to model their products and benefit from additional functionalities, such as interactive reporting, the integration of social responsibility and a graphical display of all flows.

SimaPro: Developed by Pré Sustainability, this software has been around for almost 30 years and is the most widely used in the world. Among the features that have won over manufacturers is the ability to carry out collaborative LCAs, where several collaborators work together to assess products.

Umberto: published by iPoint, a German company, Umberto offers advanced features such as graphs detailing the impact of the life cycle of the product studied.

OpenLCA: Open LCA is THE open source LCA software, available free of charge. Developed by Green Delta, a German association, it offers a number of automation functions, enabling the tool's computing power to be used within external tools!

3. How do we work at Qweeko?

Qweeko has developed an automated LCA solution. We have chosen to integrate the OpenLCA software and the Ecoinvent and Ecosystem databases into this solution, which we selected for their extensive automation capabilities, as well as for the quality of the data available and their compliance with current standards.  

Are you a manufacturer in the Electrical and Electronic Equipment sector looking to carry out Life Cycle Analyses on your products?  

👉 Contact us to find out more about our tool!

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