Economic Indicators for Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment: Going beyond Life Cycle Costing

Published in: Sustainability

Volumen:  15(1)   |  Pages:  27   |  Year of Publication:  2021  | License:  CC BY 4.0

What is the objective?

This article aims to identify relevant economic indicators for use during the assessment of the economic sustainability of products and services.

Our Short Summary.

The article emphasizes the need to establish a broader framework for addressing the economic dimension of LCSA. Accordingly, the Environmental LCC approach is incorporated to assess all internal and external costs associated with a product’s life cycle, including monetized externalities. The review resulted in 21 indicators, with a high level of measurability and usability, grouped into six economic impact categories: profitability, stability, autonomy, productivity, customers, and innovation. Therefore, this catalogue provides decision-makers with a diverse representation of economic performance.

Why you should read it!

This article provides practitioners and researchers with a comprehensive catalog of economic indicators that can be used to represent economic impacts. The paper also encourages the life cycle community to develop multi-criteria assessment frameworks for the economic dimension of sustainability.

Original Abstract

Life Cycle Costing (LCC) is universally accepted as the method of choice for economic assessment in Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) but the singular focus on costs is ineffective in representing the multiple facets of economic sustainability. This review intends to identify other economic indicators to potentially complement the use of LCC in LCSA. Papers for the review were identified in the Web of Science Core Collection database for the years 2010–2021. The shortlisted indicators were analyzed using 18 criteria. The 21 indicators analyzed performed well with respect to the review criteria for indicator methodology and use but most are unsuitable for direct integration into the LCC/LCSA framework due to the inability to aggregate across life cycles and a lack of correspondingly granular data. The indicators were grouped into six economic impact categories—profitability, productivity, innovation, stability, customers, and autonomy—each of which represents a significant aspect of economic sustainability. On this basis, a conceptual framework is proposed that could maintain the utility of LCC while integrating additional indicators to enable more holistic economic assessments in LCSA. Considering additional economic indicators in LCSA ensures that the positive aspects of LCC are preserved while also improving economic assessment in LCSA.


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