LCA stands for Life Cycle Assessment. It is a systematic and comprehensive method for evaluating the environmental impacts of a product, process, or service throughout its entire life cycle – from raw material extraction to production, use, and disposal.

The purpose of an LCA is to quantify the environmental burdens associated with a particular product or process and to identify opportunities for improvement. It takes into account various factors such as resource consumption, energy use, emissions to air, water, and soil, as well as other environmental impacts. The assessment is typically broken down into different stages:

1. **Goal and Scope Definition:** Clearly defining the objectives and boundaries of the assessment, specifying the system boundaries, and determining which environmental impact categories will be considered.

2. **Life Cycle Inventory (LCI):** Collecting data on all inputs and outputs at each stage of the life cycle, including raw material extraction, manufacturing, transportation, use, and end-of-life processes.

3. **Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA):** Evaluating the potential environmental impacts of the identified inputs and outputs, often using impact categories such as global warming potential, acidification, eutrophication, and others.

4. **Interpretation:** Interpreting the results to draw conclusions and provide recommendations for improvement. This may include sensitivity analysis and consideration of uncertainties.

Life Cycle Assessment is a valuable tool for businesses, policymakers, and consumers to make informed decisions that consider the environmental implications of their choices. It can help identify areas of high environmental impact, guide eco-design efforts, and inform sustainable decision-making. LCA has become increasingly important in the context of sustainability and corporate responsibility.