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Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3193; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093193

Social Hotspot Analysis and Trade Policy Implications of the Use of Bioelectrochemical Systems for Resource Recovery from Wastewater

1
Centre for Environment and Sustainability, University of Surrey, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK
2
Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Surrey, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 August 2018 / Revised: 22 August 2018 / Accepted: 4 September 2018 / Published: 6 September 2018
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Abstract

Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) have been catalogued as a technological solution to three pressing global challenges: environmental pollution, resource scarcity, and freshwater scarcity. This study explores the social risks along the supply chain of requisite components of BESs for two functionalities: (i) copper recovery from spent lees and (ii) formic acid production via CO2 reduction, based on the UK’s trade policy. The methodology employed in this study is based on the UNEP/SETAC guidelines for social life-cycle assessment (S-LCA) of products. Relevant trade data from UN COMTRADE database and generic social data from New Earth’s social hotspot database were compiled for the S-LCA. The results revealed that about 75% of the components are imported from the European Union. However, the social risks were found to vary regardless of the magnitude or country of imports. “Labour and Decent Work” was identified as the most critical impact category across all countries of imports, while the import of copper showed relatively higher risk than other components. The study concludes that BESs are a promising sustainable technology for resource recovery from wastewater. Nevertheless, it is recommended that further research efforts should concentrate on stakeholder engagement in order to fully grasp the potential social risks. View Full-Text
Keywords: social life cycle assessment; trade policy; resource recovery from waste; circular economy; electrochemical biorefineries social life cycle assessment; trade policy; resource recovery from waste; circular economy; electrochemical biorefineries
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Shemfe, M.B.; Gadkari, S.; Sadhukhan, J. Social Hotspot Analysis and Trade Policy Implications of the Use of Bioelectrochemical Systems for Resource Recovery from Wastewater. Sustainability 2018, 10, 3193.

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