New Research Finds Torrid Growth in Life Cycle Assessment

The Key to Moving Sustainability beyond Low-Hanging Fruit

New York City (May 12, 2011) – Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a science-based method of analyzing the environmental impact of products or processes across their full life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials, through manufacture, use, recycling and disposal. Corporate interest in LCA is surging. LCA tool vendors and consultants are reporting sales growth of 30–40 percent annually and, by one measure, the number of scientific publications dealing with LCA has more than doubled in the last two years. “As companies try to move beyond easy sustainability wins, they are looking at science-based, quantitative tools like LCA to give them an edge,” said David Schatsky, principal at Green Research and author of a new study of the use of LCA at corporations and the market for LCA tools and services.

According to the report, “Life Cycle Assessment: A Guide for Sustainability and Strategy Executives,” companies that learn to use LCA can do more than improve their environmental performance. They can also foster product innovation, make credible environmental marketing claims, and stay ahead of regulations that could otherwise shut them out of markets.  According to a survey of executives conducted for the report, 82 percent of companies that did an LCA last year plan to do more in the coming 12 months. Rising transparency expectations, the growth of LCA-based ecolabels and threats of regulation are driving greater adoption of LCA, the report concludes.

“This is a time of investment and innovation in the market for LCA tools,” said Schatsky. The report profiles 21 vendors of LCA tools and finds that low-cost, specialized tools for non-experts; open source efforts; and improving databases will lower barriers to adoption of LCA by companies large and small.  The report also features multiple mini case studies, a survey of sustainability executives and a survey of sustainability researches at leading academic institutions.

The complete findings of the report are available online at To learn more about the research or the specific companies interviewed or profiled, please visit or contact David Schatsky at 646-783-8337 or

David Schatsky


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