The unfulfilled potential of life-cycle analysis

European businesses have taken a global lead in developing and applying life-cycle analysis (LCA) techniques since the late 1980s. But a study for the European Commission suggests that LCAs have been used mainly to defend products against competitive and regulatory pressures, and have rarely been applied to stimulate the development of more "environment-friendly" processes or products. An internal tussle is developing within the Commission over how to harness LCA's potential to contribute to more environmentally sustainable consumption patterns.

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