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Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 547; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020547

Life Cycle Sustainability Evaluations of Bio-based Value Chains: Reviewing the Indicators from a Swedish Perspective

1
IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, P.O. Box 210 60, 100 31 Stockholm, Sweden
2
RISE-Research Institutes of Sweden, Eklandagatan 86, 412 61 Gothenburg, Sweden
3
Department of Technology Management and Economics, Division of Environmental Systems, Chalmers University of Technology, Vera Sandbergs Allé 8, 412 96 Gothenburg, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 February 2018 / Revised: 14 February 2018 / Accepted: 15 February 2018 / Published: 20 February 2018
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Abstract

Policymakers worldwide are promoting the use of bio-based products as part of sustainable development. Nonetheless, there are concerns that the bio-based economy may undermine the sustainability of the transition, e.g., from the overexploitation of biomass resources and indirect impacts of land use. Adequate assessment methods with a broad systems perspective are thus required in order to ensure a transition to a sustainable, bio-based economy. We review the scientifically published life cycle studies of bio-based products in order to investigate the extent to which they include important sustainability indicators. To define which indicators are important, we refer to established frameworks for sustainability assessment, and include an Open Space workshop with academics and industrial experts. The results suggest that there is a discrepancy between the indicators that we found to be important, and the indicators that are frequently included in the studies. This indicates a need for the development and dissemination of improved methods in order to model several important environmental impacts, such as: water depletion, indirect land use change, and impacts on ecosystem quality and biological diversity. The small number of published social life cycle assessments (SLCAs) and life cycle sustainability assessments (LCSAs) indicate that these are still immature tools; as such, there is a need for improved methods and more case studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainability; life cycle assessment; SLCA; social; economic; LCC; LCSA; bio-based; bioeconomy sustainability; life cycle assessment; SLCA; social; economic; LCC; LCSA; bio-based; bioeconomy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Martin, M.; Røyne, F.; Ekvall, T.; Moberg, Å. Life Cycle Sustainability Evaluations of Bio-based Value Chains: Reviewing the Indicators from a Swedish Perspective. Sustainability 2018, 10, 547.

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