A cradle-to-grave footprint, or lifecycle assessment (LCA), is a method to evaluate the environmental impact of a product, process, or service throughout its entire life cycle. This method of study takes into account the impact of each of these stages, including energy and resource consumption, emissions to air, water, and soil, and waste generation.
A lifecycle product carbon footprint is a subset of the LCA-family that focuses on; A) tracing the global warming impact of emissions to air, of B) a single product from extraction of raw material to final disposal or recycling.
Here are some examples of what production steps would be included in a lifecycle carbon footprint for various products:
By evaluating the environmental impact of a product throughout its entire life cycle, companies and policymakers can identify areas where improvements can be made to reduce the overall lifecycle footprint.