Life Cycle Thinking in the Use of Natural Resources

C.J. Koroneos*, 1, Ch. Achillas1, N. Moussiopoulos1, E.A. Nanaki2
1 Laboratory of Heat Transfer and Environmental Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, P.O. Box 483, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
2 University of Western Macedonia, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Bakola and Sialvera, 50100 Kozani, Greece

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© 2013 Koroneos et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Laboratory of Heat Transfer And Environmental Engineering, Aristotle University Of Thessaloniki, P.O. Box 483, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece;


The continuous increase of production and consumption of material in the developed world and the increase of the standard of living of the developing countries leads to the increase of the use of natural resources and the degradation of the environment. Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) is essential to sustainable consumption and production which will impact the use of limited resources. LCT is the process of taking into account in decision making both the resources consumed and the environmental and health pressures associated with the full life cycle of a product. It includes the extraction of resources, production, use, re-use, transport, recycling, and the ultimate waste disposal to provide goods and services and it helps in avoiding shifting the burdens among various life stages of a resource processing. It is important to use the life cycle thinking in analysing products because they may have different environmental impacts at different life cycle stages. It is important to note that some products have very high environmental impacts during the extraction and processing of their original natural resource but they may have minor environmental impacts when they are recycled. A good example is aluminium. The objective of this work is to analyze the importance of the life cycle thinking concept, and show its direct linkage to sustainability.

Keywords: Life cycle thinking, sustainability, life cycle assessment.