Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a means to analyze the environmental implications of product and service systems. As defined by international standards, the framework of LCA includes four distinct elements. The elements are goal and scope definition, life cycle inventory analysis, life cycle impact assessment, and life cycle interpretation. Although the LCA elements are at different stages of development, increased interest in the use of LCA will help fuel advancement of the science.
The steel industry is gaining valuable experience in the use of LCA. The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), with members a LCA program in 1994. The program centers on training and education, conducting studies of steel products, participating in LCA projects which include steel, and promoting the development of LCA.
The LCA program at AISI has proven to be successful. Over ten AISI member companies are directly participating in the effort, with even more companies represented at training and education events. LCA Projects in which AISI is active include an international steel industry study, a North American auto-mobile industry benchmark study, and application of LCA to waste management activities.