Life Cycle Thinking: 3 reasons your business should be using life cycle thinking

Whatever the size of your business, there are many gains to be made from practicing Life Cycle Thinking

If you haven’t come across the term before, Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) is about assessing the impact that your business products have on the environment throughout their complete life cycle.

Carbon reduction is one major benefit for businesses applying this approach, with other fruitful gains to be made too. Some of the these may include:

  • saving money
  • increasing profits
  • improving competitiveness
  • developing brand.

Here, the three main benefits of LCT will be discussed in more detail to equip you with the information needed to think about how your own business could benefit from this approach.

1. Reduce waste and cost

One of the main aims of LCT is to ensure that solving a problem in one area of the business life cycle does not create one in another area.

For example, a manufacturing company may improve the technology used on the production line, but doing so would cause more non-recyclable waste at the end of the process. Using LCT, or carrying out a Life Cycle Assessment, allows the company to assess the overall impact; there would be increased waste, leading to increased disposal costs and a negative impact for the environment.

By identifying the possible negative impact(s) on other areas such as the environment and company budgets, there can be further consideration and exploration of more appropriate alternatives.

2. Improve supply chain efficiencies

Reducing CO2 outputs within the supply chain means identifying more energy efficient ways of completing tasks. Looking at the entire supply chain from an environmental perspective using LCT can therefore result in a more efficient process overall.

For instance, your business may be using slow, admin-heavy paper trails or spreadsheets to provide information. A much more efficient solution would be to leverage the latest technology to provide your workforce and customers with live updates.

Using LCT can identify the benefits of this solution throughout the whole supply chain, not only in terms of overall efficiency but also for reducing CO2 and business costs.

3. Reduce environmental impact

To measure the total carbon footprint of a product (goods or service), it is necessary to consider both direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. An LCT approach ensures that the impact of each stage of a product’s life cycle can be considered in detail for informed decision-making and long term environmental benefits.

Carrying out a Life Cycle Assessment allows decision-makers to fully understand the environmental impact(s) at every stage from the materials used to the waste created.

There are many more benefits that can derive from making moves to reduce your business carbon footprint too. Some of these factors have already been touched upon:

  • Improve customer service; live updates using current technology rather than paper trails for enhanced communication with customers
  • Improve competitiveness; reduced packaging can also reduce costs for the business and the consumer
  • Develop brand; a focus on your entire business process and goals can lead to a stronger sense of purpose and overall brand messaging
  • Part of continuous improvement; taking the time to assess how you can do things more efficiently will ensure improvements are always being made
  • Develop new partnerships; working more closely with other organisations associated with your business and its products to reduce impact can forge stronger working relationships