Application typologies for life cycle assessment

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Different lists of application areas for life cycle assessment are reviewed together with some suggestions for a typology of these application areas. It is concluded that the scope of a life cycle assessment is determined by the area of validity of the decision with respect to time, space, and interest groups affected. On this basis, six application areas are distinguished. It is further concluded that the application area has limited influence on the inventory analysis and impact assessment phases, although these may be influenced significantly by the decision-maker and the complexity of the trade-offs between the involved environmental impacts. The reporting format for a life cycle assessment depends on the socio-economic importance of the decision, the intended audience, and the time available for decision making.