Sustainability 2011, 3(4), 562-577; doi:10.3390/su3040562

Integration of Social Aspects in Decision Support, Based on Life Cycle Thinking

1 Department of Environmental Technology, Technische Universität Berlin, Office Z1, Strasse des 17. Juni 135, D-10623 Berlin, Germany 2 Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis, Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz, 76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany 3 UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change, Escola Superior de Comerç Internacional (ESCI), Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Passeig Pujades, 1, E-08003 Barcelona, Spain
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 January 2011; in revised form: 27 February 2011 / Accepted: 14 March 2011 / Published: 30 March 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment)
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Abstract: Recently increasing attention has been paid to complementing environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) with social aspects. The paper discusses the selection of social impacts and indicators from existing frameworks like Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA). Two ongoing case studies, addressing sustainability assessment within decision support, were considered: (1) Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Indonesia; and (2) Integrated Packaging Waste Management in Spain and Portugal (FENIX). The focus was put on social impacts occurring due to decisions within these systems, such as choice of technologies, practices or suppliers. Thus, decision makers—here understood as intended users of the studies’ results—are not consumers that buy (or do not buy) a product, such as in recent SLCA case-studies, but mainly institutions that decide about the design of the water or packaging waste management system. Therefore, in the FENIX project, a list of social impacts identified from literature was sent to the intended users to be ranked according to their priorities. Finally, the paper discusses to what extent the entire life cycle is reflected in SLCA impact categories and indicators, and explains how both life-cycle and on-site-related social impacts were chosen to be assessed. However, not all indicators in the two projects will assess all stages of the life cycle, because of their varying relevance in the different stages, data availability and practical interest of decision makers.
Keywords: social impacts; social indicators; SLCA; SIA; LCA; sustainability assessment; integrated water resources management; packaging waste management; software; decision support

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MDPI and ACS Style

Lehmann, A.; Russi, D.; Bala, A.; Finkbeiner, M.; Fullana-i-Palmer, P. Integration of Social Aspects in Decision Support, Based on Life Cycle Thinking. Sustainability 2011, 3, 562-577.

AMA Style

Lehmann A, Russi D, Bala A, Finkbeiner M, Fullana-i-Palmer P. Integration of Social Aspects in Decision Support, Based on Life Cycle Thinking. Sustainability. 2011; 3(4):562-577.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Lehmann, Annekatrin; Russi, Daniela; Bala, Alba; Finkbeiner, Matthias; Fullana-i-Palmer, Pere. 2011. "Integration of Social Aspects in Decision Support, Based on Life Cycle Thinking." Sustainability 3, no. 4: 562-577.

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