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Assessments and management are quite different things.
<span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>Assessments</span> generates data. Often this data sits idle because there is no-one with enough authority to act on it (i.e. talk but no walk) LCA identifies the life chain stages that are responsible for the significant impacts or implications. It is useful that LCA also identify ‘key players’ along the life chain so as to ease the transition to the management stage.
<span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>Management</span> is what designated persons or organisations do with the data.
Management is focussed on the structural relationships and actions by the life cycle partner organisations and individuals to produce a desired outcome. It is an “organisational” endeavour, rather than a scientific process.
It involves building stakeholder partnerships and communication along the life chain, identification of objectives and targets, establishing performance metrics and measurement, reporting, review and benchmarking,
While LCA is always a helpful first step, there are also examples of successful life cycle management initiatives that are not based on a formal LCA.
Note that sustainable supply-chain management (SSCM) – already in widespread use – is a derivative of LCM. SSCM provides useful lessons on what works and what does not.
A weakness in many LCA, LCM, and SSCM exercises is the very restricted range of sustainability criteria taken into account. For example, energy efficiency or renewables are a noble objective, but do not on their own constitute ‘sustainability ‘ since they ignore all the other criteria, some of which may be adversely effected by the proposed action.. There is a need to broaden the LCA (and LCM) exercise to cover additional environmental, social and economic issues that have been ignored in the past.