Life Cycle Assessment sample essay
This Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) aims to evaluate the environmental impact of the production of candlesticks. All the different materials and processes required to manufacture candles need to be taken into consideration to determine the impacts on the environment. The most common material used to manufacture candles is paraffin wax. Each candle comes in some type of individual packaging most of the time. Candle wicks are made using various natural fibers, such as reeds, rushes, or cotton. An important refinement in wick technology introduced the plaited wick, which burned more than unplaited wicks. Currently, twisted or plaited cotton makes up most of the wicks. The candlestick is made of steel, or could also be made of metal. The functional unit will be a 125ml candle able to generate up to 25 hours of light. Each steel-made candlestick can only hold one candle, and can be used several times.
•Paraffin wax •Cotton •Metal •Materials for packaging Outputs:
•Gas emissions: when candles burn, paraffin wax emits greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide. •Depletion of natural resources: paraffin wax is derived from crude oil. Paraffin candles are petroleum products, a non renewable resource. It could increase pollution due to oil spills and the processes needed to extract petroleum. At the same time, the extraction of metal needed for the candlestick causes large volumes of solid waste, requires large amounts of energy, and produces air, soil, and water pollution. •Chemicals toxicity: some candles might have lead or zinc in their wick, which release harmful gasses when they burn. Also, scented candles can release toxins from the chemicals used to give them scent.
Question 2 of 3 (10 points)
Corporate Environmental Management Tools
•Ecolabelling: Swan eco-label was developed for candles by the Nordic ecolabelling. The main purpose is to reduce the emission and effect of substances harmful to users’ health and the reduction of gases that have and impact on climate change. According to this scheme, 19 out of 28 are environmental requirements, such as description of the candle, description of chemical additives, among others. •Design for the Environment: Enabling consumers to quickly identify products that are safer and that can help protect the environment will make them choose a certain product more frequently. If manufacturers start focusing on producing candles that are made from the safest possible ingredients, consumers, producers, and the environment will benefit.
•Sustainability reports: Keeping track of environmental performance and the capacity of a company to use and maintain resources in a way that prevents depletion, will improve economic, and social performance. If candles can be produced in a more sustainable way, that is, using substitutes sources that are renewable and less harmful, the final product will be more successful in all the areas. Therefore, reporting this information will allow constant improvement of all the processes. •Integrated supply chain management: It is important to know which stages in a supply chain are the ones that are being less efficient, and negatively affecting the production of a good, in this case, candlesticks. Determining these processes can enable their improvement to have a more environmentally friendly supply chain.
•Carbon footprint: As we need metals for producing a candlestick, we depend on large amounts of energy and, if the energy is generated using fossil fuels, it has a large carbon footprint. Measuring carbon footprint allows the whole manufacturing process to be analyzed, realizing which stages have a stronger impact and how can they be improved. •Cleaner production: improvement of the machinery used in each stage of production can decrease the environmental impact of producing candles, as it will decrease waste created after different processes. It can also make the processes more efficient, benefiting the company. Development of technology has made these improvements possible. •Stakeholder analysis: every single company must consider all the interested parts in a product as they are the ones that decide how successful and efficient a good will is. If the manufacturing of candlesticks is for example affecting the surroundings of a plant, people, that are consumers too, can generate social impacts that will worsen the company’s performance and image.
Question 3 of 3 (4 points)
Challenges and limitations
Candles can be made of different types of wax that have different impacts on the environment. Some of the raw materials that could be used to produce a candle can be less harmful than others. The candleholder life span could vary depending on the quality of the metal that is being used. Therefore, changing the life span of the candlestick.
Transition from a “Cradle to Grave” to a “Cradle to Cradle”
Steel has high scrap metal recycling value. Old metal material can be reused to make new products. Recycling old metal products uses 95% less energy than manufacturing it using new materials. Metal recycling processes require using a lot of energy. If we recycle metal products we only have to use a low percentage of this total energy, decreasing the use of our natural resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
To minimize wasteful wrapping of candles, the material used for packaging can reduce the environmental impact by choosing more recyclable materials. Aluminum, for instance, could be used as a base for the candles, or even to manufacture a candleholder, considering it can be easily recycled. Glass, can be recycled too, reused, and even upcycled into new materials or products. Avoiding candles with extra plastic packaging can also decrease the negative impacts on the environment. In addition to packaging decisions, considering the materials used for manufacturing of candles can benefit the producers, consumers and the environment. For example, soy and beeswax candle emit fewer harmful chemicals when burned. Another way to reduce pollution is to buy from local candlemakers. This reduces wasteful packaging, and there is no need to transport raw materials to a farther manufacturing plant, and to consumers at longer geographical distances. Thus, reducing fuel usage and supporting local businesses as well.
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