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life cycle assessment

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Definition
Comprehensive ecological assessment that identifies the energy, material, and waste flows of a product, and their impact on the environment. This cradle to grave evaluation begins with the design of the product and progresses through the extraction and use of its raw materials, manufacturing or processing with associated waste stream, storage, distribution, use, and its disposal or recycling. The objective is to identify changes, at every stage of the life cycle, that can lead to environmental benefits and overall cost savings. Also called life cycle impact assessment.