Product Design and Life Cycle Assessment

Québec’s product carbon footprint pilot project

We believe world markets will increasingly demand authentically green products as defined by cradle to cradle design philosophy. Life cycle assessment allows us to evaluate how a product can be optimized at every step of its life, from design to manufacturing, use, recovery and recycling. It is, therefore, a powerful tool for assessing how we can improve and better design products.


In 2010, primary aluminum produced by Alcoa around the world was certified Cradle to CradleMD Silver level by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry. This multi-faceted certification evaluates the safety of a product for humans and the environment, as well as its design, using a life cycle approach.


In addition, a life cycle study reviewed by a third party was conducted at the request of Alcoa Inc. in 2012 to assess the impact of using aluminum wheels on commercial vehicles (Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Aluminum and Steel Truck Wheels).


Alcoa Canada Global Primary Products participated in one of the first life cycle analysis pilot projects in Quebec, l’Empreinte Carbone, to evaluate the GHG emissions related to the production of a pure aluminum ingot in Québec. In addition, with Alcoa Foundation, we provided $350,000 of funding over a three-year period (2011-2013) for the development by École Polytechnique de Montréal of ImpactWorld+, a new global model for life cycle impact assessment.