A life cycle assessment (LCA; also called ecobalance) is a method for analysing environmental impacts of a product or service that considers the entire life cycle, starting with the procurement of the raw material, through processing, distribution, use and end-of-life disposal. A life cycle analysis calculates in detail for a product or service the energy and resource use and the potential health and environmental impacts. For this purpose, various indicators such as energy and raw material consumption or the release of pollutants are taken into account. Life cycle analysis can be used, for example, to determine which of two products uses fewer resources or which is more environmentally friendly. There are different types of life cycle analysis, which, among other things, consider different phases of the life cycle of a product. One aspect, for example, is the calculation of the carbon footprint.
The ISO 14044:2006 standard specifies certain requirements and provides guidelines for life cycle analysis.