The pros and cons of Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs)
Proving corporate sustainability claims is essential in today’s business climate. As a leader, loyal customers trust you to deliver valid Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) statements on the journey and emissions produced in the products they buy. Naturally, you turn to a commonly used tool on the market and decide to conduct a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
You’ve seen other leaders take the LCA approach, and you follow suit. After all, delivering on green promises and statements is a key part of your business. But does an LCA alone really provide you with the accurate, in-depth information you need to position your company as a pioneer in the sustainability space?
Defining a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
An LCA is the systemic analysis of the environmental impacts of products during their life cycle. With 80% of global companies now reporting on sustainability to reach climate targets, a key step in achieving these targets is identifying where products come from.
There are four phases in an LCA. The first phase is defining the product or service for assessment, including the functional unit, the systems, and the boundaries. After that, a data compilation of the environmental input and output of a product or service is performed.
In the third phase, impact assessment categories are identified and quantified based on the flow of emissions, energy, and material from the inventory. Finally, conclusions are drawn from the data and analysis, and opportunities can be identified and evaluated to work toward lower emissions or improved responsible sourcing.
At a glance, all of this seems sufficient, but when you dig deeper, key questions regarding accuracy start to emerge.
Side by side: Circulor vs LCAs
The Circulor platform provides a holistic picture of the provenance of material and embedded carbon attributed to that material by dynamically tracking production and aggregating emissions at each step within the supply chain. Circulor’s service attributes carbon intensity to the tracked material, recording energy usage per facility and production volumes.
Circulor’s value presents itself in various ways, especially when combined with an LCA. With Circulor, organizations have access to high-accuracy reporting and the most up-to-date calculations of emissions that are used by supply chain participants—embedded in the physical product itself.
An LCA uses paperwork and estimations, looking back in hindsight through annual third-party audits of suppliers and ad-hoc internal inspections of refiners. Said frankly, they’re snapshots in time based on data that are likely already out of date, however, when combined with Circulor’s technology, dynamic data can be provided.
How Circulor complements an LCA
LCAs consist of data collected through paperwork examinations, and therefore work with the quality of data available and can provide estimations.
Circulor, on the other hand, adds value to LCAs by offering in-depth, accurate data, based on the flow of physical materials and therefore can produce precise information of supply chain activities and emissions.
LCAs provide a historical view of emissions and anomalies.
Circulor, compliments an LCA by ensuring participants can work with continuously accessible production and emissions data, which then provides regular and detailed tracking of how your company is achieving its ESG goals at all tiers of your supply chain. This also means that any deviations that may occur can be immediately pinpointed and quickly addressed.
LCAs can be time-intensive and may take several months to build. By the time a full LCA is available, relevant data may become out of date. You might be making claims which are not entirely true.
Circulor, works with LCAs to ensure participants can easily access data to track required information at any given point to support claims and create reliability in marketing your company and products as responsible and sustainable.
Accurate traceability for a green future
Here, at Circulor, we believe credibility comes with proof. From Volvo to Vulcan Energy and more, Circulor is continuously working with key players to ensure supply chain traceability is conducted with data-driven accuracy.
Circulor Founder and CEO, Douglas Johnson-Poensgen commented “with our extensive experience tracking the provenance, production flow, and GHG emissions of some of the world’s critical materials, we pride ourselves in delivering reliable data to the corporate leaders who are making real change in the world.”
It’s clear that the old way of providing information towards corporate ESG targets will no longer cut it. Participants must ensure credibility and accuracy is at the forefront of the data collected. With Circulor and LCA processes combined, leaders can have a piece of mind that all the claims they make are true with trustworthy data collected along the entire supply chain.