We can take the example of a simple white cotton shirt. To analyse the LCA one would have to gather information the environmental impact at every level such as:
Growing, Harvesting and Picking
Spinning, Weaving, Dyeing and Washing, as well as Cutting & Sewing
Retail sale and customer use
Disposal by customers
This is a good example because it shows the complexity of LCA on a small scale - what happens when products are more complex? When there are different raw materials, different treatments, production spread out across the globe, different selling and distribution points, and end-of-life alternatives?
This information could be used to enable comparisons between different textile materials and products, however, how can the comparison be reliable when the methodologies are different?
That is where regulation steps in: in order to have comparable results between garments and final products at European and local levels, different methodologies are tied to the LCA requirements.
French Environmental Labeling: ADEME project to give ABCDE scores to the product from an LCA, but only on two impact indicators- carbon emissions and Eutrophication (the gradual increase in the concentration of phosphorus, nitrogen, and other plant nutrients in an aging aquatic ecosystem)
PEF (European Environmental Labeling): a European project with a more precise method that would give a score in points from the 16 impact criteria. (4)
These scores in themselves are today being analyzed as part of the overall regulatory landscape and will surely evolve in the coming years. At the French level, the AGEC regulation will involve an environmental score that considers the LCA, and at the European level, the PEF will surely be absorbed by the EPREL. The main reason behind this stems from the fact that, as new regulation comes into play, the EU aims at having a more standardized data collection process and labeling system. This will help with the issues highlighted before: it will provide comparable and reliable scores that will allow consumers to make decisions based on this information not only at a local level but at an international scale. Furthermore, it aims at enlarging the scope of impact analysis, including new environmental metrics and social impact assessment.