Session Title: Addressing the Social Dimension of Sustainability
Time: 4:15 – 4:45pm
Session Type: tba
Although social and environmental LCAs are based on life-cycle thinking and share many common concepts, there are several key differences when implementing these methodologies [Saling et al 2019]. To assess the social impacts of individual products or services, companies are faced with the challenge of developing credible methods and procedures. The aim of this study was to gain knowledge and practical experience applying the Product Social Impact Assessment (PSIA) Handbook [Goedkoop et al, 2018] and explore different data collection tools. Through a case study, we have analyzed two Corbion products, Opti.Form Ace P37 and Verdad N15, which offer protection against Listeria growth, extending the shelf-life of meat products.
The assessment followed the stages described in the PSIA Handbook [Goedkoop et al 2018] including Materiality, Goal and scope, Hotspot assessment and the full PSIA. The relevant social topics analyzed in this study were derived from a materiality assessment. Secondary data sources, including desk research, RepRisk ESG platform and SHDB v4 (social hotspots database), were used for the hotspot analysis. Primary data collection focused on using data sources that were readily available such as Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit reports and company reports (e.g. from suppliers).
The materiality and hotspot analysis proved to be useful to focus the collection of primary data on the most relevant topics. These two stages helped limit the number of social topics and stakeholder groups that needed to be covered. Our experience showed that RepRisk and SHDB are useful to conduct a hotspot analysis for workers but need to be complemented with primary data or desk research. Primary data for Tier 2 or Tier 3 suppliers remains challenging as it requires in depth knowledge of the supply chain. The two supply chains analyzed in the study were similar with very small differences in the PSIA. This means that for future comparable cases, the scoring of the value chain may be re-used reducing the effort required for data collection and interpretation.
The assessment of Opti.Form Ace 37 and Verdad N15 supply chain confirmed that all topics examined were compliant with applicable standards or laws, or progress beyond compliance, further substantiating the products’ value propositions for safety and beyond by ruling out negative social impacts. The absence of negative social impact in the supply chain strengthens the credibility of the positive social impact from product use.
Saling, P. et al (2019). Product Social Metrics Implementation Guide, version 1.0. Amersfoort.
Goedkoop, M.J. Indrane, D.; de Beer, I.M. (2018) Product Social Impact Assessment Handbook, Amersfoort.
Morao, A.; Musoke-Flores, E.; Visser, D., (2019) Social impact of meat extended shelf life solutions – Corbion learning journey.
The first guideline of Social Life Cycle Assessment was published in 2009 as a project of UNEP/SETAC Life cycle Initiative ( Benoit and B. Mazijn, Eds.2009;, Benoît et al., 2011). In the last 10 years, further developments and hundred implementations have been carried out, defining in a more details way the methodology, its indicators and impact assessment methods. After those ten years, a revision of the current version of the guidelines is necessary. This project started in September 2017 but only since May 2018 has been sponsored from the UN Environment Life Cycle Initiative.
The project consists of two phases: 1. revision of the guidelines and 2. Road testing of the revised guidelines. In the road testing, the interest is to implement S-LCA and SOLCA to different products and different sectors. Nine pilots project are planned, they covered different sectors, geographical locations and dimensions of the organization involved. Sector involved are: food, raw materials, automotive. An example of public administration is also planned.
All phases of the S-LCA and SOLCA will be implemented starting from the definition of goal and scope, stakeholder categories and system boundary to life cycle inventories and impact assessment. A hotspot analysis will be implemented as first step to identify those stakeholder categories and impact subcategories which are relevant for the chosen products and organization.
After the Hotspot analysis a collection of primary data for the S-LCA and SOLCA will be done for those impact categories defined relevant by the Hotspot analysis for each of the pilot project. The collection of primary data will allow to define the current positive and negative social impacts, because it will be possible to compare with the local reference conditions.
Activities organized for the training of the pilots as well as all tools and documents, such as questionnaire, to support the participants of the road testing will be presented. The first feedbacks for the participants will be presented as well as the first results on the life cycle inventors.
The first overview of challenges and benefits of the road testing will be presented and discussed.
Benoit C and Mazijn B, Eds., Guidelines for social life cycle assessment of products. UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative, 2009.
Benoît-Norris, C., Vickery-Niederman, G., Valdivia, S. et al. Introducing the UNEP/SETAC methodological sheets for subcategories of social LCA. Int J Life Cycle Assess (2011) 16: 682. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-011-0301-y
Benoit-Norris, C., Cavan, D. A. and Norris, G. (2012) ‘Identifying social impacts in product supply chains: Overview and application of the social hotspot database’, Sustainability, 4(9), pp. 1946–1965. doi: 10.3390/su4091946.
Ciroth A, Eisfeldt F (2016) PSILCA—a product social impact life cycle assessment databaseGoogle Scholar
Maria Laura Franco Garcia
LCA is recognized as one of the most accurate and systematic methodologies in the managerial decision processes towards sustainable performance of products/organizations/regions. Most of LCA advancements are, mainly, focused on the environmental dimension, in our research we search ways to integrate the social dimension. From literature important challenges to quantify the social impacts were identified, which inspired use to further develop what we named SE-LCA. To assess the social impacts two methods were applied: the performance reference and the impact pathway approach. In order to evaluate them and further develop SE-LCA, a sequential multi-case research design was implemented. A central attention was put on the construction of the impact pathways to develop the impact assessment method for the social topics and the quantitative approach of LCA was maintained because the social impacts are related to the material flows of the product. The result of this research consists of seven social midpoint effects: (i) control of resources; (ii) creation of opportunities; (iii) engagement; (iv) equal access to opportunities; (v) freedom of expression; (vi) health, and; (vii) safety. These midpoints reflect SE-LCA’s purpose to integrate all activities of companies and surrounding circumstances in the product lifecycle that influence dignity and wellbeing.