A circular economy requires consideration of the whole life cycle of a product or service. This helps to avoid ‘burden shifting’, where the impacts are simply moved to a different part of the life cycle.
Life cycle management provides a framework for a systems approach that can help businesses to transition to a regenerative model by understanding and managing the material flows and impacts across the full life cycle of a product or service.
The life cycle management framework includes life cycle thinking and life cycle assessment:
- Life Cycle Thinking is a qualitative approach that creates an understanding of the flow of materials over the life cycle of a product or service and encouraging the consideration of environmental impacts upstream and downstream of production.
- Life Cycle Assessment is a quantitative methodology to estimate potential environmental impacts across life cycles, identifying any impact hotspots and providing a baseline to implement improvements across the life cycle of the product.