Eco-profiles represent a sub-system of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). While LCA is focused on all phases from “cradle to grave” of a product or a service, Eco-profiles investigate only a sector of the full life cycle, namely the phases from “cradle to gate” (where “gate” means the factory gate). Thus, extraction and refining of raw materials, energy production and supply, and all necessary processes until the product under investigation are covered by the Eco-profile. All resource inputs and all emissions to air and water are investigated along this production chain. Downstream processes like further processing, manufacture of secondary products, the use phase, and the end-of-life treatment of the product are not covered by Eco-profiles.
For simple problems, analysis and/or comparison of Eco-profiles can deliver answers, for example if different production processes shall be compared for the same product. It is also possible to identify the influence of single process steps on the total resource demand or on environmental impacts of the total process chain. Concerning more complex problems to be investigated, Eco-profiles provide the basis for a full Life Cycle Analysis. Eco-profiles contain all necessary information to prepare Type III Environmental Declarations according to ISO 14025, commonly called Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).