Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): An effective tool for supply chain decarbonisation


As businesses work towards reducing their carbon footprint, they must consider not only the emissions from their own operations, but also the emissions from their supply chains. Scope 3 emissions, which are indirect emissions from activities outside of a company’s control, can account for the majority of a company’s carbon footprint. To effectively reduce these emissions as part of a net zero plan, businesses must first identify the hotspots in their supply chains. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is a tool that can help businesses identify these hotspots and develop strategies to reduce product, service and system level emissions in areas that will have the greatest impact.

What is Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)?

LCA is a methodology that assesses the environmental impact of a product or service throughout its entire life cycle, from raw material extraction to end-of-life disposal. It is based on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), in particular, in ISO 14040 and ISO 14044. LCA considers all stages of the life cycle, including production, use, and disposal, as well as the energy and materials used at each stage. LCA provides a comprehensive understanding of the environmental impact of a product or service, including greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and resource depletion.

How LCA Can Help Identify Hotspots in the Supply Chain?

LCA can be used to identify the hotspots in a company’s supply chain by analysing the environmental impact of each stage of the life cycle of a product or service. By understanding the environmental impact of each stage, companies can identify the stages with the highest emissions and focus their efforts on reducing emissions in those areas.

For example, if a company manufactures a product that requires a large amount of energy in production, the LCA can identify the specific processes within the production stage that are responsible for the high energy consumption. The company can then develop strategies to reduce energy consumption in those processes, such as improving equipment efficiency or using renewable energy sources.

LCA can also be used to compare the environmental impact of different materials or processes. For example, if a company is considering using a new material in their product, LCA can be used to assess the environmental impact of that material compared to the current material. This information can help the company make informed decisions about which materials to use in their products.

Reducing Scope 3 Emissions

Once the hotspots in the supply chain have been identified, companies can develop strategies to reduce emissions in those areas. Here are some strategies that companies can use to reduce Scope 3 emissions:

  1. Engage with suppliers: Companies can work with their suppliers to reduce emissions throughout the supply chain. This can include setting emissions reduction targets, providing support for sustainable practices, and investing in sustainable transportation.
  2. Improve logistics: Companies can reduce emissions by optimising their logistics operations. This can include using more efficient transportation methods, reducing packaging waste, and improving inventory management.
  3. Use renewable energy: Companies can transition to renewable energy sources to reduce emissions from energy consumption. This can include investing in on-site renewable energy generation or purchasing renewable energy from providers.
  4. Reduce material consumption: Companies can reduce emissions by using materials more efficiently, implementing circular economy practices, and designing products for longer lifespans.


LCA is a scientific method that can help companies identify the hotspots in their supply chains and develop strategies to reduce Scope 3 emissions. By analysing the environmental impact of each stage of a product or service’s life cycle, companies can gain a comprehensive understanding of their carbon footprint and focus their efforts on reducing emissions in the areas with the highest impact driving meaningful action.

Our team has over a decade of experience in conducting LCA studies, in a variety of different sectors including; energy, aviation, agrifood, automotive amd mining. To find out how Alfa Energy can support your supply chain decarbonisation goals to achieve net zero, please do get in touch.

Dr Seyed Ebrahim

Dr Seyed Ebrahimi joined Alfa Energy (an Edison Energy company) in January 2022 as a principal consultant within the sustainability division. Ebrahimi has extensive research and consultancy experience in sustainable operations, data science, and technology applications in the real estate, energy, finance, aviation, agro-food and automotive sectors. He is well-versed in GHG emissions mapping scopes 1, 2 and 3, green supply chain strategies, net zero business strategies, life cycle assessments, the circular economy, industrial-urban symbiosis and environmental mitigation strategies.