Figure 1. Different aspects of the life cycle of a product.[1]

Life cycle or product life cycle is the cycle that every product goes through from "cradle to grave". This includes every step in its life including the extraction of resources to the disposal of the item itself.[2] Understanding what steps take place in the life cycle of a product allows a life cycle analysis to be done. Every product or service has a potential social, economic, or environmental impact that may or may not be obvious. Understanding the steps in the life cycle of a product can help to clarify what impacts exist.

The steps in a products life cycle are made up of all activities that go into producing, selling, transporting, using, and disposing of a product and include:[3]

  • Extraction of raw materials
  • Manufacturing and production
  • Distribution and packaging
  • Purchasing
  • Use and maintenance
  • Disposal

The environmental impacts can be lessened at each of these steps with fairly simple changes. Utilizing extensive recycling, adopting new production techniques, minimizing packaging, purchasing only needed items, maintaining products well and desposing of them mindfully can all help lessen the impact of consumption.[4]

For Further Reading


  1. Wikimedia Commons. (May 25, 2015). Life Cycle Thinking [Online]. Available:
  2. The Economic Times. (May 28, 2015). Product Life Cycle [Online]. Available:
  3. University of Alberta. (May 28, 2015). Green Purchasing Life Cycle [Online]. Available:
  4. Global Development Research Center. (May 28, 2015). Life Cycle Analysis [Online]. Available: