Are LCAs Useful?
Yes. Consumers should demand LCAs and Environmental Product Declarations. Why?
• Public availability of this type of information will promote environmental responsibility on the part of producers. This will lead to process and product innovation and more environmentally sound product design.
• Disclosure of material/chemical content in the product is critical to building consumer awareness about the toxicity of products and human health risks caused by the production, use, and disposal of the product.
• It will allow consumers and public interest groups to independently verify environmental claims made by producers, to ensure that they are not merely ‘greenwash’ (weak efforts or false statements which inaccurately — but purposely — portray a company as environmentally responsible).
• It allows advocates to form new coalitions with people affected along the chain of production, such as trade unions and consumer groups. In particular it allows advocates, producers, and government agencies to identify 'hot spots' — points where damage is or could be done to susceptible populations or parts of the ecosystem during the life cycle of a product. This allows the social ramifications of toxic production or hazardous extraction to be tied to brand name products.