Title: How to Benefit from Decision Analysis in Environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

Authors: Pauli Miettinen and Raimo P. Hämäläinen

Status: European Journal of Operational Research, Vol. 102, 1997, pp. 279-294.

Keywords: Environmental effects, Environmental decision making, Multiple criteria, Life cycle assessment

Environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) is one method to support environmental information needs by multi-attribute product evaluations. LCA describes the environmental effects associated with a product, process or activity over its whole life cycle by calculating the material and energy requirements as well as emissions to air, water and soil and by assessing the environmental impacts of those. An LCA study has both objective and subjective steps. So far, LCA has been developed without much consideration of the literature on decision modelling. We want to show that approaches and tools from decision analysis would be beneficial both in the planning of an LCA study and in the interpretation and understanding of the results. We describe the LCA methodology and application, and discuss how the integration of decision analysis and LCA could improve LCA as a tool for decision making. We use an LCA study on beverage packaging systems to illustrate the new approach.