Life cycle assessments (LCA) and product carbon footprints (PCF)

A life cycle assessment (LCA) serves the purpose of systematically recording the entire life cycle of a product or service and analysing its impact on the environment. It is this kind of life cycle assessment which will aid in purposefully locating and then implementing sustainable processes optimisations.

A life cycle assessment analyses the entire life cycle of a product or service: This involves considering all relevant phases such as extraction of raw materials, transport routes, manufacturing processes and disposal, and investigating the environment impact. A life cycle assessment at product level is referred to as carbon footprinting, as the focus is specifically placed on the greenhouse gas emissions generated (product carbon footprint PCF). The application of a life cycle assessment or carbon footprinting is always based on internationally recognised standards (ISO 14040/44, ISO 14067, PAS 2050, GHG Product Life Cycle Standard).

The benefits of a life cycle assessment (LCA) at a glance 

  • Overview of emissions of individual products and services
  • Identifying optimisation potential within life cycles or operations
  • Comparison of products or services in terms of impact on the environment or eco-friendliness
  • Development of a more climate-friendly product through the recording of greenhouse gas emissions and compilation of a carbon footprint with the option of helping to finance myclimate climate protection projects equivalent to the calculated emissions
  • Basis for communicating the ecological performance of a product or service based on facts

The aim of the product carbon footprint is to comprehensively assess the ecological footprint of a product. The Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) records and calculates the climate-relevant greenhouse gases that are produced during the entire life cycle of a product. This takes into account the potential and actual environmental impacts from the manufacture to the use and disposal of the product. The results are then summarised compactly in a PCF factsheet or, if required, documented in a detailed report. The balancing is carried out according to internationally applicable standards and norms (ISO 14040/14044, ISO 14025).

In contrast to a complete Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), a Product Carbon Footprint (PCF) also considers the entire product life cycle, but here the focus is specifically on greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on requirements, the entire life cycle "from the cradle to the grave" can be analysed or only a part of the life cycle "from the cradle to the factory gate".


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Martin Lehmann

Senior Expert Life Cycle Assessment

+41 44 500 43 50

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