Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Digital Commons Database
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a technique for assessing the environmental impacts of products from raw materials to disposal after use. The LCA Database, part of the LCA Digital Commons Project at the National Agricultural Library, provides open access Life Cycle Assessment datasets and tools. The goal of the LCA Digital Commons Project is to develop a database and tool set intended to provide data for use in LCAs of food, biofuels, and a variety of other bioproducts. It makes North American LCA data more accessible to the community of researchers, policy-makers, industry process engineers, and LCA practitioners.
One example of a Life Cycle Assessment study comes from dairy farming: an extensive study considered practices at dairy farms, milk processing facilities, transportation companies, and other portions of the supply chain that ultimately puts milk into American's refrigerators. Based on their data, they calculated the greenhouse gas output to get a generic gallon of milk produced, processed, packaged, distributed, sold, and consumed is between 15 to 20 pounds of CO2-equivalent. The study data also show the relative contribution of greenhouse gases from each phase of the supply chain.