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Lifecycle Analysis in Product Design - 2024 Update

Lifecycle Analysis in Product Design - 2024 Update

Apr 02, 2024 2 min(s) read

There are reams of customer insights data that will tell you that customers have a preference for sustainable products and will pay more for them. Consequently, products that claim to be environmentally friendly have flooded the market. Lifecycle analysis can be a reliable way to substantiate a business’s claims, but it is all about the detail, the points of comparison, and common sense.

The Importance of Lifecycle Analysis

LCA is far from a new concept, but its importance has never been more critical. In the world of sustainable product design, it serves as a robust tool to assess the true environmental cost of goods and to determine if a product is genuinely "green" or just a marketing ploy.

One example of a product that underwent rigorous LCA is the KeepCup, designed to combat the environmental issues associated with single-use disposable cups. KeepCup recognized the need to go beyond surface-level claims and assess the entire lifecycle of their product. This involved evaluating the carbon impact of manufacturing, packaging, shipping, usage, and ultimately, the end of service.

The Gold Standard of Assessment

To ensure their environmental claims were credible, KeepCup partnered with independent experts, Edge Environment, to conduct comprehensive ISO 14044:2006 and ISO 14040:2006 compliant LCAs. This process provided a rigorous evaluation that scrutinized data and assumptions, ensuring it applied not only to the Australian market but also to the UK and EU.

Understanding the Lifecycle

The key takeaway from KeepCup's LCA is that when comparing products for environmental impact, it's crucial to consider the intended lifespan of the product. For instance, KeepCup Thermal was assessed over the course of one year of use, analyzing its impact after each use. This perspective enabled a meaningful comparison against disposable cups and compostable alternatives.

Carbon Impact

The results were illuminating. KeepCup Thermal, while having a higher embodied energy due to its durability, exhibited a significantly lower carbon impact compared to single-use disposable cups after just eight uses. Over an eight-year lifespan, each use of the KeepCup Thermal contributed to approximately 8.7 grams of CO2e, over four times less than a single-use cup.

Product Materials Impact

Additionally, the analysis revealed that a 12oz KeepCup Thermal, made primarily of stainless steel, generated less material waste compared to a year's worth of 12oz single-use cups.

Product Lifespan

KeepCup also addressed the importance of product lifespan in their LCA. They found that their reusable cups had an average lifetime use of four years, but with the introduction of stainless steel, they anticipated an extended lifespan of up to eight years. This highlights the significance of designing products for durability and longevity.

Conclusion

In a world where environmental sustainability is of paramount concern, lifecycle analysis is not just a buzzword but a necessary practice. It empowers consumers to make informed choices and challenges companies to back their environmental claims with data. KeepCup's commitment to transparency and rigorous assessment serves as an exemplary case study in responsible product design. As consumers, let's remember that the best reusable product is the one we use, and LCAs help ensure that the choices we make truly contribute to a greener future.

 

KeepCup LCA Report

KeepCup Thermal LCA Report

If you’ve invested in a high-quality product like a KeepCup, you’re more likely to wash your cup, remember it when you leave the house and build a reuse habit.