Life Cycle Assessment

As defined by the International Organization for Standardization, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a technique for assessing the potential environmental aspects and potential aspects associated with a product (or service), by:

  • Compiling an inventory of relevant inputs and outputs,
  • Evaluating the potential environmental impacts associated with those inputs and outputs,
  • Interpreting the results of the inventory and impact phases in relation to the objectives of the study.

Previous comparisons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the dairy industry have resulted in a large variation of reported relative emissions. Therefore, our research will use results from current model runs to obtain a measurement to represent the overall impact of dairy production on GHG emissions. This assessment will help researchers know where to apply further study, and will help policy makers and production managers understand where changes can be made to increase system sustainability. The LCA component of the project will be conducted in Years 2-5 of the project.

LCA Objectives for the Sustainable Dairy project include:

  • Define system boundaries for dairy production system
  • Develop life cycle inventory databases on foreground, near foreground and background processes
  • Enable local analysis of management practices and impacts using a matrix format
  • Integrate process and LCA models
  • Create and disseminate LCA – based assessments to result in climate change mitigation and adaptation for dairy production systems
  • Populate the LCA Digital Commons with data representing a wide range of production practices at all stages of the life cycle

For more information please contact the Life Cycle Assessment Team Lead Greg Thoma , University of Arkansas, at