Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a widely utilized technique to quantify inputs and emissions associated with the life cycle of a product, from raw materials extraction through the product's end-of-life. Given the basic economic principle of policy targeting, the case for focusing on emissions associated with a specific good as opposed to targeting each different externality needs development. This review identifies situations that merit a product life cycle approach in environmental regulation and then discusses the use of LCA with different types of policy instruments. We then discuss the methodological and implementation-related issues involved with using LCA as an economic decision aid as well as issues in designing regulations to control life cycle emissions. We conclude by identifying areas for future LCA research that are ripe for the application of microeconomic insights.


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