Systems and Tools for Life Cycle Management

Being an integrated management framework of concepts, techniques and procedures, LCM connects different operational concepts, policies, systems, methods, tools and data that incorporate environmental, economic and social aspects and looks how they are interconnected and how to best address these throughout the product or process life cycle. As indicated in the previous section, a wide range of methods, tools and concepts can be used in LCM. Analytical tools are life cycle assessment (LCA), life cycle costing (LCC), social life cycle assessment (SLCA), organizational LCA (OLCA), hotspot analysis, different forms of footprinting such as water footprint and carbon footprint, cost benefit analysis (CBA), material flow analysis (MFA), substance flow analysis (SFA), input–output analysis (IOA), environmental risk assessment (ERA), etc. Procedural tools include auditing, checklists, eco-design, eco-labeling, etc. and supportive tools such as weighting, e.g. by Delphi expert panels, uncertainty analysis, sensitivity analysis, etc. could be applied. LCM also includes design concepts such as design for the environment, design for sustainability, design for recycling etc. It also refers to policies and strategies such as circular economy, sustainable consumption and production, integrated product policy (IPP), resource efficiency, eco-efficiency, dematerialization, industrial ecology, etc. as well as organizational systems or programs such as extended product responsibility (EPR), product development process (PDP), certification, environmental communication, value chain management, etc. All these analytical and procedural tools as well as policies, strategies and systems/programs are part of LCM (Nilsson-Lindén et al. 2014; Remmen et al. 2007; Sonnemann and Leeuw 2006). The initial ideas for this integrated approach of using multiple tools and methods stem from the ChainNet project (Wrisberg and Udo de Haes 2002).

The choice of policies, strategies, systems, programs and different types of tools represented in Fig. 2.4 mainly depends on the principal goals and the level of ambition of each company. Companies use LCM to support their goals of providing products that are as sustainable as possible. Companies need to go beyond their organizational boundaries and be willing to expand their scope of collaboration through external communications to all stakeholders of their value chain as it makes them more visible, may improve their public image, improve their relations with stakeholders and may increase their market penetration through mapping their product chains and develop criteria for product enhancement and value creation. Life cycle information may be included in:

• Communication to shareholders and stakeholders in general by, for example, green accounting and annual environmental or sustainability reports

• Communication with customers through such items as life cycle based environmental product declarations, LCA data, product environmental performance indicators or product profiles

• Communication with public authorities via product information schemes and green public procurement guidelines

Fig. 2.4 Choice of policies, strategies, systems, programs and different types of tools within the life cycle management context (Based on Remmen et al. 2007)

• Communication with the public, consumers (including professional purchasers in businesses) and retailers using product brochures and various eco-labeling systems and information campaigns

• Communication with suppliers, including SMEs, using company codes or manuals of conduct, audit or supplier evaluation systems

Larger companies often combine supplier communication with offering training exercises.

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