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Data Collection in Life Cycle Assessments


Primary vs. Secondary Data in Life Cycle Assessments

Before diving into more practical topics in this series around life cycle assessments, we wanted to cover one more theoretical part: the importance of and the difference between primary and secondary data. As the foundation of any robust LCA lies in the meticulous collection and analysis of data, this paper delves into the intricacies of data collection within the framework of LCAs. More importantly, we will examine the underlying quality of an LCA, which ultimately shapes the reliability of the assessment’s conclusions.


To navigate the complexities of data collection, this paper will dissect the dichotomy between primary data and secondary data—two pivotal types of information that feed into the LCA process. Primary data, characterized by its specificity and direct measurement, offers a granular view of the product system, often at the expense of greater resource investment. Conversely, secondary data, sourced from existing databases and studies, provides broader accessibility and efficiency, albeit with potential trade-offs in precision and context specificity.



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