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79-ME4211 - 10 Life-cycle assessment 1 Life-cycle...

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10. Life-cycle assessment 1
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Life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a method for evaluating the total environmental impact associated with a product or process by tracking the flows of energy, material, and wastes throughout its entire existence, from raw material to ultimate disposal. There are three components to a complete LCA: (i) Inventory analysis : determination of materials, energy, and wastes associated with a product as shown in Figure 5.2. (ii) Impact assessment : evaluation of the impacts that these materials, energy, and wastes have upon human health and the environment; and (iii) Improvements assessment : Exploration of mechanisms for reducing identified adverse environmental impacts. Although LCA can be usefully applied at any point within a product lifetime, employing LCA at the design stage of a product is an especially powerful waste minimisation tool. LCA-facilitated improvements that have been adopted include the following examples: (i) Car design has been changed to make cars easier to disassemble and to simplify recycling of the metals, plastics, and
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