From drawer to driver: utilising LCAs to drive sustainable transformations

6 May 2024

Due to regulatory pressure, it will be increasingly expected that companies conduct Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) to validate the sustainability performance of their products. The LCA results provide companies with large amounts of quantitative data on environmental impacts that support the company in marketing efforts (green claims). But currently, many companies are unaware that they can utilise the LCA data for so much more – for example as an input to their strategy development process and hereby enable sustainable transformation!

LCA is a method to quantify environmental impacts across many different impact categories – i.e. it includes much more than climate impacts

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a systematic and comprehensive methodology used to evaluate the environmental impacts associated with a product, process, or service throughout its entire life cycle – from raw material extraction to end of life. The LCA quantifies environmental impact across various types of environmental areas, which go well beyond climate, such as 

  • Biodiversity
  • Resource depletion
  • Pollution of air Land use changes
  • Water depletion 
  • And many more…

Companies are increasingly conducting LCAs for design and marketing purposes

New legislation, such as the Green Claims Directive, require companies to validate green advertisement claims with reliable evidence, which they gather through an LCA. The upcoming Eco-design Regulation will soon also set much stricter design requirements. Hence, more companies are now conducting these assessments to inform their product developers and marketing departments. LCAs are also increasingly used as a requirement for tender participation.

Many companies have therefore already made the effort of conducting multiple KCAs, but why are they not utilised to their full potential?

In our experience, this is due to the complexity of the LCA results and under-prioritised communication efforts from both LCA professionals and the recipients of the LCA reports. The main challenge of fully understanding the LCA data is to translate these complex results into a common language, e.g. translating the units of CTUs (comparative toxic unit for ecosystems) into a general understanding of effects on biodiversity. But by investing in getting to fully understand the results of the LCAs – and diving deeper into why and where impacts happen – your company can start to utilise the LCA reports currently hidden away at the Sustainability Manager´s desk. When achieving this understanding and getting an overview of the impacts, LCAs can support your company in developing your sustainability strategy with a holistic view across environmental areas

Leveraging quantitative data to inform your sustainability strategy

For companies offering uniform products or similar product families, LCAs can support with a baseline understanding of the company’s main negative environmental impacts and further highlight the environmental hotspots. This serves as an indicator for where and how to drive change related to product redesign. Especially, a uniform product family offers a golden opportunity to strategically utilise the LCA data to build a robust strategy based on quantitative data. 

The holistic view of environmental impact areas that LCAs deliver, can help to broaden the understanding of your company’s significant impact areas. LCA data can therefore serve as a cornerstone in developing a comprehensive sustainability strategy, influencing not just the approach to decarbonisation roadmaps but also shaping strategies around biodiversity, pollution management, and water conservation.


If your company has a uniform product portfolio, has conducted an LCA, and wants to start working with biodiversity, the LCA can be helpful: 

From the LCA results you can map out the size of the impacts from the materials and processes that affect biodiversity. This will provide you with a baseline assessment and an overview of the biodiversity hotspots in the product and the products value chain.

By researching where and why these negative impacts happen, the company can start to understand what needs to happen to minimise those impacts and thereby set relevant KPIs and reduction strategies.”

MARIA Steingrímsdóttir


LCA data is also a mean to prepare your organisation for numerous regulatory requirements

LCAs can be used as a tool and data contributor to many of the regulatory requirements that companies have to meet. These include, but are not limited to:

  • CSRD & EU Taxonomy (reporting): LCA data enables your company to assess and report on actual impacts, take action and improve your performance score to increase accessibility to finance or funding.

  • ESPR & digital product passport (eco-design): LCAs can help you provide the necessary information on products subjected to the ESPR and enable your company to design for longevity, durability and repairability. Additionally, it serves as a great input for the Digital Product Passport! 
  • Green claims (marketing): LCA supports with accurate and quantitative data which can be third party verified, enabling companies to communicate about their sustainable initiatives – read more about the Green Claims Directive here.
  • And many more regulations (such as the Critical Raw Materials Act, Rights to Repair etc.)

Conclusion: LCAs represent more than just a tool for sustainability communication – it is a significantly underexploited asset that, if fully understood, can reshape a company’s approach to sustainability 

By demystifying LCA results and translating them into actionable insights, businesses can significantly enhance their sustainability practices. Leveraging these assessments not just for compliance and communication, but as a cornerstone for innovation, strategy development, and resource optimisation.

The challenge now lies in bridging the gap between the technical depth of LCAs and the practical application of their insights, ensuring that the results of this valuable methodology are fully captured.

If you want to know more about how we leverage the full potential of LCAs get in contact with our in-house experts Minna and Maria!

Author details

Minna Shukri

Senior Consultant

María Magnea Steingrímsdóttir