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Social Life Cycle Assessment Revisited

Centre for Global Change & Earth Observations, Department of Geography, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48823, USA
British Standard Institute, Great China Region, Room 2008, East Ocean Center, No. 24A, Jianguomenwai Street, Beijing 100004, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2014, 6(7), 4200-4226;
Received: 1 March 2014 / Revised: 17 June 2014 / Accepted: 18 June 2014 / Published: 2 July 2014
(This article belongs to the Section Social Ecology and Sustainability)
PDF [412 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]


To promote the development of Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA), we conducted a comprehensive review of recently developed frameworks, methods, and characterization models for impact assessment for future method developers and SLCA practitioners. Two previous reviews served as our foundations for this review. We updated the review by including a comprehensive list of recently-developed SLCA frameworks, methods and characterization models. While a brief discussion from goal, data, and indicator perspectives is provided in Sections 2 to 4 for different frameworks/methods, the focus of this review is Section 5 where discussion on characterization models for impact assessment of different methods is provided. The characterization models are categorized into two types following the UNEP/SETAC guidelines: type I models without impact pathways and type II models with impact pathways. Different from methods incorporating type I/II characterization models, another LCA modeling approach, Life Cycle Attribute Assessment (LCAA), is also discussed in this review. We concluded that methods incorporating either type I or type II models have limitations. For type I models, the challenge lies in the systematic identification of relevant stakeholders and materiality issues; while for type II models, identification of impact pathways that most closely and accurately represent the real-world causal relationships is the key. LCAA may avoid these problems, but the ultimate questions differ from those asked by the methods using type I and II models. View Full-Text
Keywords: SLCA; review; social life cycle impact assessment; UNEP/SETAC guidelines SLCA; review; social life cycle impact assessment; UNEP/SETAC guidelines

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Wu, R.; Yang, D.; Chen, J. Social Life Cycle Assessment Revisited. Sustainability 2014, 6, 4200-4226.

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