Benefits of Life Cycle Approaches

A life cycle approach can help us make choices. It implies that everyone in the whole chain of a product's life cycle, from cradle to grave, has a responsibility and a role to play, taking into account all the relevant impacts on the economy, the environment and the society.

The impacts of all life cycle stages need to be considered comprehensively by the citizens, the companies and the governments, when they make decisions on consumption and production patterns, policies and management strategies.

A life cycle approach enables product designers, service providers, government agents and individuals to make choices for the longer term and with consideration of all environmental media. Life cycle approaches avoid shifting problems from one life cycle stage to another, from one geographic area to another and from one environmental medium (for example air quality) to another (for example water or land).

Many decisions in practice are already based on the life cycle approach, for instance...

... Consumer purchasing decisions via ecolabels, or company reports on environmental and social issues.

... Business design of products and services via Life Cycle Assessments studies, Design for Environment, Total Cost of Ownership calculations, or management systems that are orientated toward products or facilities.

... Government policy making by involving a wide range of stakeholders (e.g. via Product Panels) or through Integrated Product Policy (IPP) approaches.

All in all, life cycle approaches can bring several benefits:

For Industries

By integrating the life cycle perspective in overall management and bringing product and process development in a more sustainable direction, the organisation can harvest the benefits of environmental, occupational health and safety, risk and quality management, as well as developing and applying cleaner process and product options. Incorporating life cycle and sustainability management will improve image and brand value for both world market players as well as smaller suppliers and producers.

For Governments

Governmental initiatives will not only secure and strengthen the position of the industrial and service sectors in regional and global markets, but also ensure overall environmental benefits to society (balanced with economic and social aspects). By engaging in supportive programmes and initiatives tç promote the implementation of life-cycle approaches, governments can show global responsibility and governance by sharing and disseminating sustainability options world- wide.

For Consumers

Life cycle approaches will help point consumption in a more sustainable direction by offering better information for purchasing, transport systems, energy sources, to guide consumers. It offers a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and public involvement with industries and governments, going from local agenda to national and international strategies for sustainable development.

More information on a life cycle approach can be found in the document "Why take a life cycle approach?".