Product Stewardship for Manufacturers

Life Cycle Management

Life Cycle Management (LCM) is a business decision-making approach that considers benefits, costs and risks over the full life cycle of a product or service. Life cycle and DfE principles consider local as well as global impacts.

LCM applies approaches to product design and development that minimize environmental impacts of products throughout all life stages of a product, starting with the extraction of resources for raw material inputs, and continuing through processing and manufacturing of all feedstocks and final products, distribution, use, and disposal. Life cycle analysis (LCA) is a tool used for LCM, to quantify the life cycle impacts of a product. Design for the Environment (DfE) is a tool used in applying life cycle design principles to a product or process.

Checklist of suggestions for putting life cycle tools to work at your business.

Who's Doing It?

3M (see page 23)


Environment Australia Greening the Building Life Cycle Project

Eurokraft industrial paper sacks

Hewlett Packard environmental packaging strategy

Kodak life cycle approach - internally and with suppliers (see pages 24 & 50)

McDonald's clamshell packaging

Nortel Networks

Additional Resources

American Center for Life Cycle Assessment

EPA National Risk Management Research Laboratory

United Nations Environment Programme on Sustainable Consumption

Framework for Responsible Environmental Decision-Making (FRED)

Tellus Institute Life-Cycle Design as a Business Decision-Support Tool

IRAP DfE Guide and Strategy Wheel

Institute for Lifecycle Energy Analysis

International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment

LCAccess - EPA's website for resources related to Life Cycle

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

LCA Links

Illustrative story on production life cycle of mouthwash

Tips for Incorporating Life Cycle Methods

checkbox Educate yourself and cross-functional staff in Life Cycle (LC) analysis and methods. Learn what you can from related case studies on life cycle applications to products and processes. Plan for more in-depth training as time and budget allow.

Reason: Knowing the basics of LC are required to get started. Much can be learned from what others have already researched and analyzed.
Example: Search the web for possible mentors and/or case studies on life cycle analysis related to your product(s) and business.

checkbox Utilize some of the interactive and software tools available to help learn more about LCA , and to evaluate life cycle impacts of existing products

Reason: Reduce your time spent on a steep learning curve, and utilize data compiled from years of LCA research
Example: Over 20 different LCA tools are linked from EPA's LCAccess website - Go to "LCA Software" for an extensive list.
Example:  EPA's Climate and Waste Program has a set of draft emission factors for carpets, personal computers, and selected building materials that quantify the life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts of managing these materials using a variety of waste management practices, including source reduction, recycling, combustion, and landfilling. (Before publishing the new GHG emission factors, EPA is seeking feedback through June 20, 2003).

checkbox Apply Design for Environment (DfE) design principles in all life phases of your products and processes

Reason: Some seemingly benign products may have significant environmental impacts when all phases of raw material extraction, production, use and disposal are considered.
Example: See opportunities for each product phase and our DfE section

checkbox Incorporate life cycle analysis and consideration in your environmental and procurement policies

Reasons: Help your company move "beyond compliance", and engage all staff in the effort
Example: Nike discusses commitment to life cycle management in their environmental mission statement

checkbox Involve, educate, and empower suppliers to use life cycle designs and practices

Reason: Suppliers know their products best; and true life cycle considers every component and raw material going into the final product
Example: Kodak evaluates life cycle impacts of supplier's products

Here is a high-level list of life cycle and DfE opportunities to consider through all life cycle phases of a product


  • Minimize soil, habitat, and other environmental disturbance related to all process and product inputs
  • Minimize material (lightweighting and volume)
  • Incorporate recovered materials
  • Design for disassembly, remanufacture, reuse, and recycle, including minimization of different materials, interchangeable parts, etc.
  • Use low-energy materials and processes
  • Avoid use of hazardous or toxic materials and constituents
  • Consider transport implications of supplies and raw materials

Product Manufacture

  • Minimize toxic chemicals and waste
  • Avoid chemicals linked to global warming
  • Minimize energy & water consumption
  • Minimize water and process discharge
  • Recover water & energy
  • Minimize and/or reuse scrap

Distribution & Packaging

  • Use and specify environmentally preferrable packaging materials
  • Minimize volume and weight
  • Consider reusable packaging

Product Use & Maintenance

  • Enhance durability
  • Design without need for oil, battery, chemicals, and other consumables
  • Minimize energy/water consumption for product use
End of Life
  • Make different components and materials easily identifiable
  • Maximize recovery and remanufacturing opportunities


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