Milwaukee-based Briggs & Stratton announced it will use a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) process to evaluate the environmental impacts for new products and to work with retail customers and consumers to drive a sustainability-minded decision making process.

Gasoline-powered lawn equipment in general has been heavily criticized in recent years for emissions, and battery-powered lawn mowers are beginning to compete on the market.

However, Briggs & Stratton says it has reduced the emissions from its products by 75 percent since 1995 and that the LCA for its newest 500e Series engine is the next step in improving environmental performance.

Briggs & Stratton broke the LCA process into three steps: understanding impacts, identifying improvement opportunities, and engaging consumers.

Not surprisingly, the use and manufacturing phases of the engine life result in the highest environmental impacts. The assessment found the primary energy for the full life cycle of one 20" mower is equivalent to powering a television for 181 days (6.75 hours on per day), or powering a laptop for 1,529 days.

Total CO2 equivalent is 280 kg (617 pounds) over the entire life span of the product (5.5 years) or 51 kg (112 pounds) of CO2 generated per year, including a credit from the recyclability of materials at end of life, of 55.5 kg-CO2 equivalence. 

The annual CO2 emissions from a 20” mower with a 500e Series™ gasoline engine is equivalent to the energy saved by changing out one conventional light bulb with one compact fluorescent light bulb, the company said.

"Very little quantitative information in the Outdoor Power Equipment industry existed before conducting the assessment. While there was an intuitive understanding that the use phase of a mower likely held the largest impact, it was unknown how much other life cycle phases, such as raw materials extraction and processing, product manufacturing, transportation, and end-of-life recycling/disposal, contributed to the whole," said Jennifer Misiewicz, Environmental Manager at Briggs & Stratton, who led the LCA process.