Why ecoinvent

Life Cycle Thinking

Life cycle thinking is a decision-making tool helping you make truly informed choices by looking at the entire life cycle of a product.

What is Life Cycle Thinking & Life Cycle Assessment?

Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) is about going beyond the traditional focus on production site and manufacturing processes to include environmental, social and economic impacts of a product over its entire life cycle (as defined by the UNEP SETAC Life Cycle Initiative). While Life Cycle Thinking is a philosophy, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a scientific method which enables this way of thinking. 


LCA allows quantitative assessment of environmental impacts of a product or a service. LCA looks at a product's entire life cycle from the extraction of raw materials (cradle) to the product's disposal (grave). It takes into account all energy, materials and emissions related to the production, use and disposal of a product.

Benefits of LCA


The internal benefits:


  • Make your supply chain more sustainable
  • Assess the environmental performance of your departments and products
  • Set up internal metrics to keep track your environmental performance
  • Benchmark your products
  • Include a life cycle thinking approach already when developing your product
  • Consciously choose your suppliers
  • Set a sustainable path for your product



The external visibility:


  • Integrate and enrich your CSR policy
  • Make your product stand out with EPDs and eco-labelling
  • Communicate effectively with diverse stakeholders, be it investors, regulators or customers
  • Take part in the Carbon Disclosure Project, GHG Protocol, ISO 14040 or other international standards or initiatives in your field
  • Assess the carbon footprint of your product and go beyond


Grasp the full picture by looking at your entire supply chain

Identify all inputs (resources, energy, water, materials) and outputs (emissions, wastes, effluents and products) in your supply chain.


Uncover the hidden costs


Life cycle assessment is a bottom-up approach that can help you to find more eco-efficient solutions, to identify which are the truly preferable products and how to substantially reduce their impacts.


Find out the hotspots of hidden environmental costs, so that you can save on your budget as well as the environment. 


Take a holistic approach


LCA is a holistic approach that looks at all upstream and downstream processes. It gives you insights into the impacts of your suppliers and consumers.

Concrete examples

What are the impacts on humans health, ecosystems and resource depletion? Taking the examples of a t-shirt, chocolate and coffee, it becomes evident that the impacts of land use, water use, energy use and climate change can differ largely. 

Looking behind the curtains

of a t-shirt, coffee and chocolate


The manufacturing process of a t-shirt is energy intensive, however, most water is  consumed to produce the cotton for the t-shirt. So don't focus on the carbon footprint alone. Global warming is just one impact assessment category. It is vital to consider other environmental aspects such as water and land use, material requirements and pollution as well to understand the full spectrum of impacts and potential trade-offs.


Only looking at the production stage of your product is deceptive. Your products's upstream supply chain, its use phase and its end-of-life also have environmental impacts. The most impactful stage of your supply chain might come as a surprise. 

The different types of environmental impacts for different types of products varies significantly throughout their life cycle. The overall environmental impacts of, for example, a t-shirt, coffee and chocolate naturally differ.


For agricultural products, such as coffee and cocoa, the cultivation stage is often the most impactful. In the case of coffee, also the use phase (brewing) is not negligible. The full life cycle assessment (LCA) of agricultural products also highlights the importance of land use and water use aside of the carbon footprint.


The ecoinvent database provides the results for the most widely used and established LCIA methods (i.e. IPCC).


Why ecoinvent?

ecoinvent - your background database 


LCA is a data intensive scientifc method. This is where ecoinvent comes into play. The ecoinvent database provides you with background data to construct your supply chain. From avocado, to electricity, all the way to zinc production the ecoinvent database offers a wide range of products and services.

Worldwide electricity production on country level


The latest version of the ecoinvent database covers close to 100% of (statistically represented) global electricity generation. Current and projected, future electricity mixes are available on a country or even more granular, region-specific level.



Trusted scientific facts


Make informed decisions about truly sustainable choices, based on scientific facts. We supply the data for the processes, products and services you require up and down your entire supply chain.

Valuable information on ecoinvent

Curious to gain more insights? Find the process or product you are looking for in the list of more than 14,700 datasets ecoinvent offers.

Are you still not sure what kind of information you can get from ecoinvent? Have a look at an actual dataset in our database and see what level of detail we offer: example pdf.

ecoinvent has been used as a background database for many scientific reports and case studies. These are just a few examples:

Case studiesScientific reports

Start working with ecoinvent

Interested to learn more? Simply register for a new licence by following this link, or drop us an email. We’ll be happy to address any doubts or questions you may have.