life cycle analysis

Life cycle analysis

An LCA (or life cycle analysis) is the process of assessing the potential environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life cycle – from raw materials extraction and processing, all through manufacturing, distribution, and use, and ending with recycling and disposal of waste materials.

In the furniture industry, comparing products based on characteristics such as design, cost, quality or dimensions is a fairly easy thing to do. On the other hand, comparing products based on sustainability and circular value comes with greater challenges, but it can be achieved nevertheless. Conducting a life cycle assessment provides the most effective solution in this respect.

Sustainable Solutions by Nomique

At Nomique we focus on creating quality furniture pieces for offices and individual projects in the most sustainable way possible. The series Sustainable Solutions by Nomique showcases the innovative methods and strategies we employ to achieve our sustainability goals.

To give you an example of how we operate, all our products are 100% made in our own facilities in the UK and the Netherlands. Apart from working with local suppliers and using Dutch craftsmanship in our production process, we also strive to continuously innovate waste management practises.
We can accurately assess the environmental impact of a product by using LCA calculation, as detailed below

Calculation

The LCA looks at all stages of manufacturing, delivery, and maintenance, including:

  • the raw materials used in the production process;
  • the methods of transportation used in the production process;
  • measuring the transport distances covered in the production process;
  • the amount of energy required to make the product;
  • emissions of air, water, and land;
  • the amount of waste generated by the product;
  • the potential for reuse and extending the lifespan of the product;
  • the packaging material of the product;
  • the resources needed for use and maintenance.

All these aspects combined translate into one figure indicating the environmental impact of the product.

Environmental impact

In the example below, the independent research agency IVAM has employed the LCA method to assess the environmental impact of three different cabinets. The furniture pieces are similar in terms of functionality, dimensions, and weight. The only aspect that sets them apart is their environmental impact.
The first piece of furniture, a wooden cabinet with sliding doors produced in the UK, has a relatively low environmental impact of 54 kg CO2, almost three times lower than the environmental impact of the steel sliding door cabinet, which is 156 kg CO2. If the same steel cabinet would have been manufactured in China, the environmental impact would have amounted to 209 kg CO2.

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