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How to choose an LCA software?

Are you looking for a software to do life cycle analysis? Do you want to do LCA in a simple way? You want to quickly evaluate the environmental impacts of your products?

We are experts in eco-design software and we can help you. An LCA software allows to perform the life cycle analysis of a product. It allows to evaluate and compare the environmental impacts of a product from specific databases.
In this article, you will discover :
  • How LCA software works;
  • Which are the best databases to use;
  • How to choose the right software for your needs.

What is the purpose of LCA software?

In general, a life cycle analysis tool allows you to make the right decisions regarding the manufacture and recycling of a product by taking into account its entire life cycle. In concrete terms, the software allows the entire product to be broken down into flows. The software allows you to break down the entire life cycle of a product, from its components to the energy required to manufacture the product.

How does this software work?

Most of the life cycle assessment software is based on the exploitation of databases specific to eco-design and the circular economy. There are general and specialized databases. Depending on your activity, you will have to make sure that the software you want to use has access to the right databases What are the most relevant databases?
  1. Ecoinvent : this is the most comprehensive reference database;
  2. IMPACTS database : the free French database, regularly updated and increasingly comprehensive;
  3. GaBi : in addition to the software edition, Gabi has its own database with more and more aggregated elements such as cameras, microphones, etc. (very practical).
The main databases for product life cycle analysis.

Note: ELCD, the free European database, is a project that has been abandoned in 2019. Which is a real shame for the LCA community. Secondly, the software allows structuring and guiding the user to easily follow the LCA methodology. Indeed, the life cycle analysis is also a set of steps and iterations to complete. Using software greatly simplifies the process and allows for teamwork and networking. Theoretically, it is possible to perform an LCA by hand if one has access to the databases. A spreadsheet can be used to organize the flows. However, conducting a life cycle analysis of a product in this way is extremely time consuming. Access to databases also has a significant financial cost. All in all, it is highly cost-effective to use an adapted LCA software to remain efficient and competitive.

Why use LCA software?

An LCA software allows to become aware of the global material and energy flows for the manufacturing of a product. From there, we can improve the product in terms of material selection, suppliers and manufacturing processes. The goal is to create a product with a decreased environmental impact that best respects the fundamentals of the circular economy. This "do better with less" manufacturing approach most of the time results in a decrease in the production cost of the product.which can be a lever to increase the company's margins while getting ahead of the competition. Eco-designing a product also makes it easier for innovations to emerge thanks to the specific specifications of eco-design, which invite smarter design. The circular economy is the emerging economic model. Regulations are updating faster and faster, and it becomes strategic for companies to adapt now to continue their business by adapting to new market needs. Consumer demand for more environmentally friendly products and services is increasing at the same time. For the general public, we can see for example the emergence of apps like Yuka, which indirectly imposes its rules on producers by instantly informing the consumer. It therefore becomes important for each company to communicate on the subject of the circular economy and to choose a positioning ahead of the competition to stand out and adapt to the new regulations so as not to suffer them in the near future.

Free life cycle assessment software

There are several LCA software programs that offer free access. These programs share similar characteristics. However, the databases used and the ease of use may vary.

Download Gabi LCA software

GaBi is an LCA software that allows you to develop eco-designed products. GaBi will allow you to perform, among other things Life cycle analysis ; Cost analysis; Social impact analysis. The GaBi software integrates its own database that contains approximately 5,000 data. You can use a complete version of GaBi for 30 days on their official website.

Download the openLCA software

OpenLCA is a free and royalty-free LCA software. The openLCA software will allow you to perform among other things: The openLCA software proposes the following databases (non-exhaustive list): ProBas, Agri Balyse, ecoinvent, etc. You can find the full version of openLCA on the official website. A preliminary training is most of the time necessary for a good mastering of the openLCA software.

Download the Ecodesign Studio software

Ecodesign Studio is a powerful eco-design software that contains a complete LCA module. Unlike the previously mentioned software, it is accessible directly via the Internet. No installation is necessary. In some specific cases, it can be installed directly at the customer's site. Ecodesign Studio will allow you to perform : The EcoDesign Studio software mainly proposes the following databases: IMPACT, ecoinvent, FDE01-008. The advantage of EcoDesign Studio is its ergonomic design which makes it easy to use. This reduces the learning time per user. EcoDesign Studio is also an LCA software that facilitates the collaboration between different experts of the same project. You can benefit from a free full version of Ecodesign Studio for 30 days. To do this, simply make an appointment here to get your free access. A presentation of the software will be made to get you started. You will also have access to several LCA examples of products. Like for example the life cycle analysis of a kettle.