Recent developments in life cycle assessment
Journal article, 2009

Life Cycle Assessment is a tool to assess the environmental impacts and resources used throughout a product's life cycle, i.e., from raw material acquisition, via production and use phases, to waste management. The methodological development in LCA has been strong, and LCA is broadly applied in practice. The aim of this paper is to provide a review of recent developments of LCA methods. The focus is on some areas where there has been an intense methodological development during the last years. We also highlight some of the emerging issues. In relation to the Goal and Scope definition we especially discuss the distinction between attributional and consequential LCA. For the Inventory Analysis, this distinction is relevant when discussing system boundaries, data collection, and allocation. Also highlighted are developments concerning databases and Input–Output and hybrid LCA. In the sections on Life Cycle Impact Assessment we discuss the characteristics of the modelling as well as some recent developments for specific impact categories and weighting. In relation to the Interpretation the focus is on uncertainty analysis. Finally, we discuss recent developments in relation to some of the strengths and weaknesses of LCA.

Life Cycle Assessment

Exergy analysis


risk assessment

Strategic environmental assessment



Ecological footprint



Göran Finnveden

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Michael Z Hauschild

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

Tomas Ekvall

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

Jeroen Guinée

Leiden University

Reinout Heijungs

Leiden University

S. Hellweg

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

A Koehler

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

DW Pennington

Joint Research Centre (JRC), European Commission

S Suh

University of Minnesota

Journal of Environmental Management

0301-4797 (ISSN) 1095-8630 (eISSN)

Vol. 91 1 1-21

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


Environmental Management

Areas of Advance




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