Nordic firms "embrace life-cycle assessment"

Review finds LCA "well integrated" into business activities of many large companies

The Nordic region has become a world leader in the use of life cycle assessment (LCA) techniques to analyse the environmental performance of products and processes and seek improvements, according to a review published in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. Nearly 350 substantial LCA studies have been carried out in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland over the last few years, says author Ole Hanssen. Over 400 different product groups have been assessed in the studies, led by cars and car components, building materials, electrical equipment, paper and pulp, packaging, buildings and chemicals. "LCA studies are well integrated into the business activities in many large Nordic corporations," Dr Hanssen continues, for example ABB, Electrolux, Volvo, Stora, Tetra Pak, Norsk Hydro, Statoil, Jotun and Ban & Olufsen. In nearly one-third of studies, the main aim was to contribute to product development or improvement, followed by product comparisons in a marketing context (19%), increased knowledge of a firm's own products (15%), strategy development (13%) and to learn more about LCA (12%). Only 5% of studies were carried out in order to fulfil government requirements, suggesting that regulatory pressure is a minor influence on the growth of LCA use in the region.

Follow Up:
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, vol. 4, no. 6, pp. 315-320; "Status of life cycle assessment (LCA) activities in the Nordic Region. Ole J. Hanssen, Østfold Research Foundation, e-mail: olejh@online.no

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