What is Life Cycle Thinking?

Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) is about going beyond the traditional focus on production site and manufacturing processes to include environmental, social and economic impacts of a product over its entire life cycle.

The main goals of LCT are to reduce a product’s resource use and emissions to the environment as well as improve its socio-economic performance through its life cycle. This may facilitate links between the economic, social and environmental dimensions within an organization and through its entire value chain.

Looking at the industrial sector, taking LCT as an approach means going beyond the more narrow traditional focus on an enterprise’s production facility. A product life cycle can begin with the extraction of raw materials from natural resources in the ground and the energy generation. Materials and energy are then part of production, packaging, distribution, use, maintenance, and eventually recycling, reuse, recovery or final disposal.

In each life cycle stage there is the potential to reduce resource consumption and improve the performance of products.

A typical product lifecycle diagramme

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Relevant Publications

Life Cycle Thinking in Latin AmericaPublished 6.12.2014
Life Cycle Thinking in Latin America
(2014, English, 16 pages)
Greening The Economy Through Life Cycle Thinking
(2012, English, 60 pages)
This report provides an overview of the state of life cycle approaches and describes the work the Initiative has done to advance the topic. A good background on Life Cycle Thinking, in general.
Life Cycle Management: How business uses it to decrease footprint, create opportunities and make value chains more sustainable
(2009, English, 48 pages)
Life Cycle Management: a Business Guide to Sustainability
(2007, English, 52 pages)
Life Cycle Approaches: the road from analysis to practice
(2005, English, 89 pages)
Why Take a Life Cycle Approach Chinese | English |Español | Français | Japanese (2004, 28 pages)