Skip to main content

LCA — How it came about

— Personal reflections on the origin and the development of LCA in the USA


This article is the personal reflections of the authors on the 25-year history of LCA in the U.S.A. The original study was commissioned by The Coca-Cola Company in 1969. While most LCAs in the U.S. have been confidential studies for private companies, important public studies are described. In the early years, the LCAs were generally commissioned by clients who were interested primarily in the solid waste aspects of total manufacturing and use systems, especially for packaging products. The energy and other environmental information was just a “bonus.” In about 1975, the interest turned to energy. In 1988, the primary interest returned to solid waste, but was quickly replaced by a more balanced concern about the broad areas of resource use and environmental emissions. This broader interest has sparked the current debates in impact assessment.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Hunt, R. andR. Welch, Resource and Environmental Profile Analysis of Plastics and Non-plastics Containers, The Society of the Plastics Industry, New York, 1974

    Google Scholar 

  2. Franklin, W. andR. Hunt, Environmental Impacts of Polystyrene and Molded Pulp Meat Trays, a Summary, Mobil Chemical Company, Macedon, NY, 1972

    Google Scholar 

  3. Cross, J., R. Welch, R. Hunt andW. Park, Plastics: Resource and Environmental Profile Analysis, Manufacturing Chemists Association, Washington, D.C., 1974

    Google Scholar 

  4. Hunt, R., andW. Franklin, Environmental Effects of Recycling Paper, in Forest Products and the Environment (69:133, pp. 67–78),W. Kaghan, ed., American Institute of Chemical Engineers, New York, 1973

    Google Scholar 

  5. Hunt, R., andW. Franklin, Pollute or Not Pollute, That is the Question, Pulp and Paper 60:11 pp. 80–82 (1976)

  6. Hunt, R. andW. Franklin, Resource and Environmental Profile Analysis of Nine Beverage Container Alternatives, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1974 (EPA Report 530/SW-91c, NTIS No. PB 253486/5wp)

  7. Hunt, R. andW. Franklin, Resource and Environmental Profile Analysis of Beer Containers, CHEMTECH, The American Chemical Society, August, 1975

  8. Bingham, T.,B. Lee,P. Mulligan,P. Cooley,W. Franklin,B. Hunt, andM. Franklin, Energy and Economic Impacts of Mandatory Deposits, Federal Energy Administration, 1976. (NTIS No. PB 258638)

  9. Bider, W., L. Seitter, L. Bertuglia andR. Hunt, “Estimates of Air and Water Pollutants and Energy Consumption from the Production of Raw Materials Used in Wind Energy Systems, Solar Energy Research Institute, Golden, Colorado, 1980

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bider, E. andR. Hunt, Family-Size Soft Drink Containers - A Comparative Energy and Environmental Analysis, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Akron, Ohio, 1978

    Google Scholar 

  11. Hunt, R., J. Sellers andW. Franklin, Resource and Environmental Profile Analysis: A Life Cycle Environmental Assessment for Products and Procedures, Impact Assess Rev 1992;12:245–269

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hunt, R.G., Franklin, W.E. & Hunt, R.G. LCA — How it came about. Int. J. LCA 1, 4–7 (1996).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words

  • Life cycle analysis
  • life cycle assessment
  • life cycle inventories
  • environment
  • energy
  • natural resources
  • energy
  • pollution
  • solid waste