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Life Cycle is an objective process to evaluate the environmental burdens associated with the entire life cycle of a Product, Process or Activity by identifying and quantifying energy and materials used and wastes released into the environment in order to assess their environmental impact. The first major part in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of a product is the identification and quantification of raw materials usage, energy consumption and wastes released. This step is also known as Life Cycle Inventory (LCI). In the case of products like surfactants or their raw materials the steps covered in a LCI study are:

  • Raw Material Sourcing and Procurement
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution
  • Use
  • Disposal

Useful data

A European LCI study of major surfactants was conducted in 1998 by a consortium of companies under ECOSOL and it constitutes a major undertaking on this field of activity.

The main conclusion states that based on the findings of the study, no technical or scientific basis exist to support a general environmental superiority claim, either for an individual surfactant or for the various options for sourcing from petrochemical, oleochemical or agricultural feedstocks or minerals.

Key references

Tenside Surf.Det. 1995,32