Special Issue "Social Life Cycle Assessment—The Implementation in Different Sectors"

A special issue of Resources (ISSN 2079-9276).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Marzia Traverso
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Head of the Institute of Sustainability in Civil Engineering (INaB), RWTH Aachen University, Germany
Tel. + 49 241 80 22761
Interests: life cycle assessment; life cycle sustainability assessment; social life cycle assessment; life cycle costing; resource efficiency
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr.-Ing. Sabrina Neugebauer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Sustainability in Civil Engineering (INaB)
Tel. +49 241 80 22765
Interests: Sustainability Assessment in theory and practice, Life Cycle Assessment, Social Sustainability, Recycling and Circular Economy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We call for papers covering  the “Social Life Cycle Assessment—The Implementations in Different Sectors” on the scientific background (ontology, epistemology), methods and models (inventory and pathways), tools, data, and case studies.

The social impact generated by a product along its life cycle has gathered a huge interest in the last decade. In several sectors (such as electronic, textile, automotive), the interest of media on the social supply chain risks has been risen. On one hand, several methods, approaches, and tools, as well as databases, have been developed to support companies and NGOs in identifying the social risk along the supply chain. On the other hand, these approaches trace the risks, but they can not measure the added value nor the negative social impact generated by a product along its life cycle. Indeed, in countries or region where bad (working) conditions for workers occur, a company which invests in its human resources and supports its employees should receive a positive reputation, or at least it should have the opportunity to get a major visibility in the market among consumers.

A methodology to measure the social performance is the social life cycle assessment of products (S-LCA). The first guidelines were published by UNEP in 2009 and are now under revision. The last decades have seen a proliferation of several implementations in several sectors but an harmonized methodology has not yet been reached.

The main goal of this special issue is to define the current state of the art of S-LCA and social impact assessment methodologies implemented in different sectors towards a more sustainable way of production.

Prof. Dr.-Ing.  Marzia Traverso
Dr.-Ing. Sabrina Neugebauer
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Resources is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Social impact
  • Social life cycle assessment
  • Social risk assessment
  • Social impact pathways

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Participation in S-LCA: A Methodological Proposal Applied to Belgian Alternative Food Chains (Part 1)
Resources 2019, 8(4), 160; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources8040160 - 25 Sep 2019
Abstract
In social life cycle assessment (S-LCA), the use of a participatory approach to define and select assessment criteria and indicators (C&Is) is recommended given the specificity of social issues, but it has been, for now, rarely implemented and presents methodological challenges. Within a [...] Read more.
In social life cycle assessment (S-LCA), the use of a participatory approach to define and select assessment criteria and indicators (C&Is) is recommended given the specificity of social issues, but it has been, for now, rarely implemented and presents methodological challenges. Within a participatory action research project gathering academic researchers and field actors, we tested the applicability of configuring a C&Is list for S-LCA, together with chain actors of three alternative food distribution systems active in Belgium. The purpose of this article is to present the results of this work and to examine the methodological limits, requirements, and contributions of such an approach. The participatory approach is an appropriate method to build a list of C&Is standing out from other studies, with the identification of ambitious and innovative C&Is relating to value-chain actors (VCAs) stakeholder category, on chain governance and transaction modalities. In our case, it required an adaptation work of C&Is to the S-LCA requirements and the use of a specific theoretical approach to articulate C&Is within a coherent framework. Finally, this kind of work seems useful to give ground to the S-LCA Guidelines’ list of subcategories, which was built through a rather top-down expert-based approach. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Social Life-Cycle Assessment of a Piece of Jewellery. Emphasis on the Local Community
Resources 2019, 8(4), 158; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources8040158 - 21 Sep 2019
Abstract
An increasing global focus on sustainability has affected the jewellery industry by raising questions about its environmental and social impacts and ethics due to the negative impacts of gold mining. It is essential to consider the social aspects of mining activities on the [...] Read more.
An increasing global focus on sustainability has affected the jewellery industry by raising questions about its environmental and social impacts and ethics due to the negative impacts of gold mining. It is essential to consider the social aspects of mining activities on the socio-economic environment and the affected individuals in order to understand the sustainability of the jewellery industry in a better way. Nonetheless, this is a gap in the evaluation of the issues of jewellery in the other phases of the life cycle, observed in the literature. For these reasons, the goal of this study is to assess the social and socio-economic aspects of a piece of jewellery from the artisan’s point of view by considering the relationship between a piece of jewellery and the local community. The United National Environmental Programme/Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (UNEP/SETAC) Guidelines on Social Life-Cycle Assessment, the UNEP/SETAC Methodological Sheets and the Subcategory Assessment Method were implemented. The findings show that a piece of jewellery can play an important role in supporting the local cultural heritage by innovating the traditional product, and promoting educational activities related to the history of the product and the territory. Consequently, the local community with its historical background gives an added value to the piece of jewellery. Further research on this topic is desirable in order to improve the knowledge of this particular sector and to identify other social issues that can be involved in this product. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Practical Approach for Social Life Cycle Assessment in the Automotive Industry
Resources 2019, 8(3), 146; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources8030146 - 16 Aug 2019
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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 include social data availability and quality and obtaining data at the process level (allocation). These should be addressed in future studies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
How Do Chain Governance and Fair Trade Matter? A S-LCA Methodological Proposal Applied to Food Products from Belgian Alternative Chains (Part 2)
Resources 2019, 8(3), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources8030145 - 16 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Alternative food networks (AFNs) have emerged to improve both environmental and socio-economic aspects of food provisioning, including the living and working conditions of farmers. Their objectives are supposed to be mediated through the shortening of chains and/or the implication of alternative value chain [...] Read more.
Alternative food networks (AFNs) have emerged to improve both environmental and socio-economic aspects of food provisioning, including the living and working conditions of farmers. Their objectives are supposed to be mediated through the shortening of chains and/or the implication of alternative value chain actors (VCAs). Through the application of a social life cycle assessment methodological proposal on two products from three Belgian AFNs, we first verify how the AFNs meet sustainability promises. Second, we investigate how such social sustainability of the assessed products is influenced by the differentiated configurations of chain governance in the AFNs. Such a discussion of root causes of social sustainability performances in product chains have been investigated very little as of yet. Our results show that AFN perform well in some aspects (consumer aspects, work satisfaction, social ties between VCAs), but in some others, AFN chains use similar mechanisms as the ones used by mainstream chains (unbalanced market power, unfair prices, and low commitment between VCAs), with potentially detrimental effects on profitability and employment conditions for VCAs located upstream, i.e., farms. Our framework is useful to highlight social hotspots in product chains, and to discuss these across the differences in the configurations of the chain layout and—in the end—chain governance. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Social Aspects in the Wine Sector: Comparison between Social Life Cycle Assessment and VIVA Sustainable Wine Project Indicators
Resources 2019, 8(2), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources8020069 - 16 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
When examining the triple bottom line approach (TBL) in regard to sustainability, social aspects are the less explored in the context of wine production. This paper analyzes the social sustainability assessment tools available for companies who need to consider their social impacts. For [...] Read more.
When examining the triple bottom line approach (TBL) in regard to sustainability, social aspects are the less explored in the context of wine production. This paper analyzes the social sustainability assessment tools available for companies who need to consider their social impacts. For this purpose, we started from the analysis conducted in the work, which was the integration between the territory indicator of VIVA project “Sustainable Wine”, which is the sustainable wine project and social life cycle assessment analysis for the wine sector. In this study, the social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) methodology was compared with the VIVA certification requirements for Italian wine production. The main research objective was to analyze differences and similarities between the two indicator sets for the evaluation of the social aspects related to this sector. Starting from a general introduction to the agri-food and wine sector, we provide an overview of the VIVA project and of the S-LCA for the assessment methodology. Subsequently, we focus on the wine sector and the main players involved, as well as the primary production phases. Finally, we compare the two tools—the S-LCA and the VIVA project—and discuss the main differences between the two instruments and the possibilities for future works to develop the integration of these indicators sets to broader the analyses of the socioeconomic impacts of the wine sector. Full article
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