What does packaging Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) involve?

What does packaging Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) involve?

One piece of good news to come out of the 2020 health crisis? The fact that sustainability continues to be a priority for manufacturers and consumers alike. As Anke Hampel, Director of Innovation and Sustainability at Tetra Pak, commented in a recent interview with us, “Concern for the environment remains ahead of anything else”. 

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) enables manufacturers to assess the environmental impact of a product. It’s an essential aspect of ensuring a packaging product’s all-round sustainability, as it evaluates every stage of the product's life - from raw material extraction to disposal or recycling processes. 

Let’s take a closer look at what’s involved in a LCA:

What does “life cycle assessment” actually mean?

Here at AR Metallizing, our papers undergo extensive life cycle analysis, which enables us to assess their environmental impact and identify room for improvement from a sustainability perspective.

To do this, we look at the complete product lifecycle. Generally speaking, the “cradle to grave” product lifecycle consists of five phases: raw material extraction, manufacturing and processing, transportation, usage and retail, and waste disposal.

There are however other concepts when it comes to the product life cycle, such as “cradle-to-cradle”, which aims to “close the loop” through recycling or reuse and is most often used within the circular economy.

What are the four stages of life cycle assessment? 

LCA is a standardised methodology, which means that its standards are provided by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). It consists of four main phases:

  1. Goal and scope definition
  2. Inventory analysis
  3. Impact assessment
  4. Interpretation


LCA methodology is iterative, which means that it can be refined throughout the process. A full LCA can take months to complete, even when carried out by experienced professionals. This is due to the high volume of data that needs to be collected and analysed in order to draw meaningful results. 

What does a LCA tell us?

A properly-carried out LCA will provide manufacturers with metrics and indicators that will enable them to evaluate and improve the sustainability of future package designs, highlight potential problem areas and ensure that their environmental goals are having the intended impact. 

We continually monitor the environmental impact and regulatory compliance of our metallized papers. To find out more about our sustainability commitments, download our white paper or contact us