What can LCA learn from economics?

Brandão M, Weidema B P (2014)

Publication info

Proceedings from the LCA XIV International Conference, October 6-8, 2014, San Francisco, CA, United States p.37-42.


Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is increasingly recognized as a complete tool that supports decisions towards more sustainable product systems. However, the variability of results which, at times, are even conflicting, questions the robustness of LCA for decision support. The discrepancy of results has continued despite numerous attempts at harmonization and standardization of LCA methods. Different modeling approaches have been put forward to contextualize the decision to be supported, but this has had the perverse effect of greater variability of results and questioned further the suitability and objectivity of LCA as an appropriate tool. This paper explores the insights from economics that LCA can adopt to make it a more realistic, relevant and robust tool with which sustainable decisions can be supported. It argues that LCA is firmly rooted in neoclassical economics and that much could be gained with insights that have already been established for a long time in that discipline.

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