A Life Cycle Assessment, commonly known as an LCA, is defined as the systematic analysis of the environmental impact of products during their entire life cycle.
During an LCA, environmental impacts are evaluated through production, use and disposal phases. This includes all the upstream and downstream processes associated with production (e.g. production of raw, auxiliary and operating materials) and with disposal (e.g. waste treatment).
Today, there are maybe online and offline pre-programmed softwares available to make the Life Cycle assessment of a product easy.
The GaBi Packaging Calculator by Sphera is an LCA calculator specially designed for packaging. The web-based configuration tool allows you to create life cycle assessments and to simulate alternative packaging designs. At the heart of the tool is a fully parameterized LCA model that traces the entire packaging product lifecycle. It contains dozens of GaBi datasets on materials and manufacturing processes that play a role in the production of packaging.
Ecodex is another Life Cycle calculator by Selerant which caters to industries not limited to packaging. Ecodex allows product developers to easily make a sustainability assessment of a product, based on the evaluation of carbon footprint, water use, energy use, land use and other criteria. It allows one to make early decisions and to compare alternate ingredients, packaging, manufacturing and sourcing scenarios.The user can select the materials, manufacturing processes and transport routes that correspond to the current processes in the production of the packaging, enter values in the fields provided for each parameter.
There are just two examples of the many resources in the market now to aid better decision making in the long run.
An LCA during the design process can significantly impact our understanding of environmental bearing of any product and should be considered a must on every level and scale of economy.