This article describes the importance of standardized, comprehensive and up-to-date life cycle inventory (LCI) databases for implementing policies that point towards sustainable development (SD). Taking present-day Swiss politics as an example, this article shows the interrelations among SD, an integrated product-policy (IPP) and a comprehensive LCI database. For this reason, the Swiss government states in its report on SD that IPP is one of the measures that will be put into practice as new instruments for fiscal policy. As it is essential to be able to calculate real existing value-added chains to arrive at a real application of the IPP concept, the creation of a Swiss competence centre for LCI data is one of the different measures foreseen for the application of IPP. Therefore several LCA institutes within the ETH domain of engineering institutions along with the Swiss Federal Research Station of Agroecology and Agriculture and several Swiss offices/agencies founded the Swiss Centre for Life-Cycle Inventories called ecoinvent.