General & LCA FAQ

Find answers to our users' most frequently asked questions!

Artjom Janssen avatar
Written by Artjom Janssen
Updated over a week ago

The following overview provides a comprehensive list of the most commonly asked questions by our prospects and customers. It contains general Ecochain related FAQs, as well as LCA content-related FAQs. Click on a toggle to expand a question to view the answer.

Don't see an answer to your question? Send an email to [email protected] and we will be with you shortly.

General Ecochain Information

What is the difference between Ecochain Helix and Ecochain Mobius?

In short, Helix uses a top-down approach and creates a digital twin of a manufacturing site, a production facility, or a factory. With this approach, Helix enables companies to create bulk LCAs for their entire product portfolio. Read more about Helix.

Conversely, Mobius uses a bottom-up approach, where the LCA creation occurs on a singular product level. Once one or multiple LCAs have been created, Mobius’ specialty is to reuse items by creating copies of your models, in which you can quickly create alternative product designs or scenarios. Read more about Mobius.

How did we come up with the name Ecochain Helix?

Ecochain Helix and Ecochain Mobius

We offer two distinct LCA software products: Ecochain Helix and Ecochain Mobius. Both are perfect tools to create a Life Cycle Assessment of a product. But they serve different needs.

Ecochain Helix: this application allows manufacturing companies, that need insights into their sustainability performance at a company, process and product level, to generate and report LCAs in bulk.

Ecochain Mobius: helps product designers measure, compare, and design more sustainable products.

Why Ecochain Helix?

The name Helix originates from a mathematical shape. In general, the helix shape is better known when we look into our DNA, where a double helix can be found. A double helix is the biological term that describes the overall structure of our DNA and this resembles a linked chain.

Ecochain Helix’ purpose is to measure the environmental impact of your company and its products, whereby Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is used as the scientific backbone to generate environmental impact calculations.

As DNA also forms a chain, this ties into a key functionality of the software, as it provides the possibility of making connections within your supply chain. Whereby you can share environmental data between companies and accounts without sharing confidential information.

Integrate sustainability in the DNA of your company by using Ecochain Helix.

Ecochain Helix provides multi-leveled insights on the environmental impact of your production facility. In addition, Ecochain Helix allows you to report on these key sustainability aspects, such as: the environmental performance of your products, product portfolio, processes and the impact on a company level. With it's unique features we believe that our LCA software can enable you to better integrate sustainability into the DNA of your company.

Due to the similarities with the functionality of a helix in our DNA - creating chains and enabling change - we found that the name Helix fits well with our LCA software.

Can you compare different manufacturing sites producing the same product?

Using Helix or Mobius, it certainly is possible to compare similar, or identical products that are produced in different manufacturing sites. The extent to which one is able to compare identical products produced in different factories, will depend on the quantity, as well as the quality, of primary data available from both manufacturing sites. Ultimately, the quality of your LCA and comparison will depend on the availability of primary data you are making use of.

Do you have experience in the business-to-business (B2B), industrial sector?

We have lots of experience in the B2B industry - you can find our key industries on our website. Our software solutions (Helix and Mobius) flexibly cater to end-consumer products and intermediate products (i.e., components used higher up in supply chains).

The following industries specifically align with our software: Apparel & Textile, Construction, Food & Beverage, and Packaging. Additionally, we have many customers in Agri- & Horticulture, Automotive & Transport, Pharma & Healthcare, and Consumer Electronics.

Generally, any company that physically manufactures products and wants to learn more about its environmental footprint can use Mobius to model product LCAs.

Do you have experience with apparel, textiles & fibres?

Ecochain has many customers in the apparel & textile industries. Additionally, we have a lot of in-house consulting and modelling experience in this field - for both Mobius and Helix. Ecochain can help you by implementing your project, build a personalised database, or help select appropriate datasets for your materials.

The main LCI database that we currently offer in our software is Ecoinvent - one of the most extensive and recognised databases worldwide. For prospects interested in Mobius, we recommend taking a free 14 day trial (no credit card required) to get an impression of dataset availability. In case you can’t find appropriate datasets, consider scheduling a free 30 minute call directly through Mobius, to receive personal assistance.


Does Ecochain use specific scientific standards?

One of the most common methodologies for quantifying the environmental impact of a product is a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) - a scientific method for measuring the environmental footprint of materials and products over their entire lifetime (e.g. different stages like manufacturing, transport, use, disposal).

Ecochain's software solutions enable full life cycle modeling according to ISO 14040 and 14044 standards. ISO 14040 describes the ”principles and framework” for an LCA, while ISO 14044 specifies “requirements and guidelines”.

The actual data is collected via an important step called impact assessment (LCIA). This step delivers environmental impact values (e.g. x kg CO2-eq). There are many different methods for LCIAs based on location, goals, and scope. Ecochain supports the following LCIA methods, amongst others:

  • Environmental Footprint Method v3.0

  • EN15804+A2:2019

  • NMD Bepalingsmethode

  • Recipe 2016

  • IPCC AR6 (2021; CO2 only)

You can read more about this in the following article.

How valid is the LCA I make with Ecochain? Does this vary per country or region?

The validity of your LCA will depend on the exact framework, and calculation method used. LCA frameworks exist on regional level (e.g. the Environmental Footprint Method in the EU), as well as on national country level (e.g. the NMD Bepalingsmethode in the Netherlands). It is important to consider these factors prior to modelling complete LCAs as the chosen standard and calculation method can influence how to model your LCA. 

Have a read through the following guide to get a better understanding.

Are the LCA and GHG Protocol framework(s) compatible?

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol and Life Cycle Assessments are not completely compatible. They are similar in that they both aim to highlight and report on environmental indicators, specifically the impact of Climate Change. However, the perspectives and approaches are different.

The GHG Protocol is an accounting framework that offers guidelines for companies to report their and their respective supply chain’s carbon emissions. For this, the GHG Protocol has defined three scopes - scope 1 (direct company emissions), scope 2 (indirect company emissions from e.g. electricity, steam, district heating), and scope 3 (upstream, and downstream emissions in the supply chain). Find more information on the GHG Protocol’s website.

Life Cycle Assessment is a framework that looks at a broader set of environmental impact categories other than global warming, including, for example, human and eco-toxicities, acidification, and ozone layer depletion. Additionally, LCAs do not use the three-scope structure like the GHG Protocol. LCAs generally use modules. The exact structure of the modules depends on the LCA standard followed (e.g. ISO, EN15804+A2). Typical LCA modules include modules A (production, or cradle-to-gate LCAs), B (use phase), C (end-of-life waste processing), and D (benefits & loads occurring outside of the considered system’s boundaries).

Ecochain’s primary focus is within the LCA domain. Product Carbon Footprints (PCF) obtained from conducting an LCA can serve as input for an accounting analysis in line with the GHG Protocol. This would translate to a ‘mapping exercise’, where the LCA results per LCA module are placed in one of the GHG Protocol scopes.

The reverse relationship doesn’t hold - results from GHG accounting are unsuitable input for an LCA because LCAs consider many more impact categories than greenhouse gases.

Does Ecochain's database have enough data to calculate environmental impact for customers from all sectors?

Mobius and Helix are LCA software solutions with LCI Databases integrated into the software. Both software contain environmental datasets from LCI databases, such as ecoinvent - one of the largest and most recognized LCI databases globally. With ecoinvent, you can model a diverse and broad range of products. Ultimately, the extent to which you can model something depends on the primary, physical data available and your knowledge of the item you’re modeling.

At Ecochain, we focus on several key industries, these are industries where we also have in-house expertise to help you achieve your project or larger LCA goal.

Which Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) databases are included?

Ecochain offers various LCI databases. The following LCI databases are included in Helix and Mobius:

  • Ecoinvent: world’s most consistent and transparent life cycle inventory database

  • Nationale Milieudatabase (NMD): environmental data that can be used to calculate the environmental performance of construction materials, products and projects in the Netherlands.

  • The Environmental Footprint (EF) Database: data designed to support PEF-compliant calculations according to the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs)

You can read more about Lice Cycle Inventory databases here.

How should I determine my LCA if the value chain is long & complex, and we don't have data on everything?

LCI databases, such as Ecoinvent, offer over 18,000 datasets to choose from. These datasets vary from raw material extraction (very high in a supply chain), to ready-made, complete components, or even products (at the end of the supply chain).

Beginners to LCA tend to have a wrong perception, that in order to create their LCA, they need granular information, and data on everything occurring in their supply chain. While it depends on the goal of the LCA, it helps to narrow down the scope in the initial phase, and to broaden the scope later.

Ecoinvent datasets often offer enough information for semi-finished components, or inputs, that your company purchases to create your products. Therefore, most users are able to get started by making use of Ecoinvent, without having complete information on all the upstream processes involved in their supply chain.

Our Environmental Specialist team can always help with deep-diving into your supply chain, and help with creating a personalised database for your purchased materials.

Is it possible to map life cycles for multi-use-products ("use" phase) with multiple transportations involved?

Yes, Helix and Mobius have features that enable users to create and add diverse use and end-of-life phases to their life cycle assessments. The approach differs depending on the software solution you’re using.

Technical Support & Security

Can you provide a copy of the latest ISO27001 audit report?

You can find all relevant information about our ISO certification on our website. In case of any questions, or concerns regarding our ISO compliance, please reach out to [email protected].

Data Input

Can suppliers' LCAs be directly imported into Mobius or Helix? Is this approach accepted under ISO standards to pass a third-party verification?

Yes, this is possible! Mobius has a Custom impact feature. Similarly, there are ways to import supplier LCA data Helix. To do this you must set up an import account within your Helix environment. Contact your environmental specialist to help you.

Whether this approach is accepted under ISO standards or passes a (third party) verification, ultimately depends on the quality and source of the data used. You are more likely to successfully receive verification if the information your supplier provides was verified under the same standards you're using. If your supplier can't substantiate how they obtained their results then it is unlikely to pass third-party verification.

Can suppliers be invited to enter their data directly into Ecochain's software solutions?

Most certainly! Your suppliers can enter their data in two ways:

  1. The supplier can join Ecochain themselves (Helix or Mobius) in their own, separate account. The supplier can model their product or component, which you need for your LCA in ther own environment. This is a good approach if your supplier doesn’t have the environmental data yet. With permission from both parties, the supplier can share the LCA with you.

  2. In case your supplier has a (verified) LCA, or EPD, that they are willing to share with you directly, you can directly fill in your supplier-specific figures.

    1. In Mobius, you can do that by making use of Custom Impact in the Database Search environment.

    2. In Helix, this can be done by creating an import account. Contact your designated environmental specialist to help set up an import account for you.

Is there a feature that automatically collects data for LCA from an ERP system?

In short, no - Ecochain currently does not have features to automatically import data from your ERP system. At the moment this is an exercise where the structure of the data in your ERP system needs to be converted to the prerequisite structure of the import file used for Mobius or Helix. We are exploring options to simplify this process. We do offer Professional Services, which can help with data collection and importing the data to our software solutions.

Can I use data from other Ecochain users?

The short answer is no. Ecochain is certified under ISO 27001, and ISO 9001, and does not share data from other users without their permission.

Can I manually adjust an existing (Ecoinvent) dataset?

Currently, Mobius and Helix do not offer features to directly adapt a dataset from an LCI database (e.g., ecoinvent). However, there are workarounds to achieve the same outcome. For instance, you can export the results of all impact categories of a certain dataset and manually adjust certain impact categories using the Custom impact functionality. In certain cases, we can explain how a dataset is built, so you can model the dataset from scratch and adjust the dataset’s inputs.

Can I account for recycled content in your product's LCA?

Certainly! There are methods to take the use of ‘waste’, or production leftovers into account in your LCA - in both Mobius or Helix. The exact approach will depend on the specifics of your case. For instance, whether the wastes are generated internally, or whether you are receiving/purchasing production leftovers from elsewhere.

Is it possible to import a flowchart to Mobius, or Helix?

At the moment it is not possible to upload a flowchart to your Mobius, or Helix environment. If you are using an online tool to create your flowchart, you can add the URL, or link, to the flowchart in the description field of an object in the Mobius Detail panel.

Creating a flowchart is an important starting point for identifying the scope, setting the system boundaries, and conducting your LCA. A complete flowchart can serve as an inspiration for how to structure your LCA, as well as a checklist to ensure you have included all relevant inputs for your model.

Is it possible to import data from other (design) software?

Currently the main method for adding data from other (design) software is making use of excel import files.

For Mobius users, the only way to import data is by making use of .csv formatted files. Take a look at this article to explore approaches when wanting to import data in bulk in Mobius.

For Helix users, currently it is possible to import data page-by-page in the software with regular excel files.

In both cases, the extent to which you're able to import data from other (design) software will depend on whether the data can be structured in line with our import files. 

Does Ecochain offer templates?

Yes, Ecochain currently offers templates for Mobius users. Take a look at our current product templates, which are available here.

Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)

What is an EPD, how can I create one & how long does it take?

Have a read through the following blog post on our website, that is written by fellow Ecochangers. The comprehensive blog answers all important questions related to the process of making EPDs.

Is Helix or Mobius a better fit for generating EPDs?

When it comes to creating verified EPDs, currently Helix is a better fit than Mobius. There are two main reasons why Helix is a better solution for this use case.

First, Helix specialises in portfolio footprinting - it is simply faster at creating Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) when it comes to assessing the environmental impact of your entire portfolio, or manufacturing site(s). Second, Helix has better functionalities for creating reports that are needed to get to an EPD. While neither Helix or Mobius is currently able to create full, complete & ready reports - you will always have to write parts of the report manually - Helix can create templates, as well as fill in part of the data that has been modelled in Helix. 

Mobius is a product footprinting software. Currently, Mobius does not have reporting capabilities. Therefore, generating reports, and EPDs with Mobius will be a more time-intensive, and manual effort. Naturally, you can export the (quantitative) results from Mobius to Excel, which serves as the starting point to creating a (EPD) report. Having said that, we have many Mobius clients that have created verified reports and EPDs with the use of Mobius.

What is the difference between an environmental profile and an EPD?

Have a read through this blog post to understand what both of these terms are. Additionally, we highly recommend having a read through this fantastic case study, describing how Orbia Building & Infrastructure (Wavin) created over 13.000 environmental footprints with the use of Helix. The case study clearly describes the difference between an EPD, and an environmental profile.

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