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Open AccessArticle

A Practical Approach for Social Life Cycle Assessment in the Automotive Industry

Chair of Sustainable Engineering, Technische Universität Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni 135, 10623 Berlin, Germany
Group Environmental Protection, Daimler AG, 70546 Stuttgart, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Resources 2019, 8(3), 146;
Received: 31 March 2019 / Revised: 11 June 2019 / Accepted: 13 June 2019 / Published: 16 August 2019


Identifying social impacts along the life cycle of their products is becoming increasingly important for companies. Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) as a possible tool has not been conducted so far within industries with complex international supply chains using mainly company-specific data. As a novelty, this work presents a practical SLCA approach along with the first case studies for the automotive industry, based on a previously developed indicator set and an extensive data collection. Social data was collected from companies along the life cycle of two specific car components, while analyzing data availability, validity and comparability. To obtain product references, both a top-down and a bottom-up approach for quantitative indicators based on time effort and data availability on the process level were devised. Also, two options were developed for how qualitative indicators (e.g., written principles for Corruption) can be applied together with quantitative performance indicators (e.g., number of accidents). The general practical applicability of the approach could be demonstrated by four quantitative and seven qualitative indicators. It is a first step towards analyzing the social performance of products with complex supply chains on a company level. Remaining challenges/limitations include social data availability and quality and obtaining data at the process level (allocation) and should be addressed in future studies.
Keywords: social life cycle assessment; automotive industry; case study; social data collection social life cycle assessment; automotive industry; case study; social data collection
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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Karlewski, H.; Lehmann, A.; Ruhland, K.; Finkbeiner, M. A Practical Approach for Social Life Cycle Assessment in the Automotive Industry. Resources 2019, 8, 146.

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