Feasibility Study: Integration of social aspects into LCA

Grießhammer R, Benoit C, Dreyer L C, Flysjö A, Manhart A, Mazijn B, Methot A-L, Weidema B P (2006)

Publication info

Prepared for the UNEP Life Cycle Initiative. Freiburg: Eco-Institute.


The feasibility study was prepared in a multi-stage discussion process within the context of the Task Force “Integration of social aspects into LCA” of the UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative. The methodology of environmental or biophysical LCA was taken and checked, whether and how social aspects can be integrated or supplemented to conduct a Social LCA (SCLA). Furthermore core elements and requirements upon the integration of social aspects are formulated.

In terms of methodology, there are evidently no fundamental problems calling the feasibility of SLCA into question. There are however certainly considerable hurdles to be overcome in practice, especially in characterisation modelling, because social impacts will require an entirely different type of modelling. Hurdles arise in the goal and scope definition (for example system boundaries and allocation/cut off criteria), in the categorization of indicator groups, in the classification of the associated individual indicators and in their characterization. It is quite probable that the very different appraisals of social aspects by different actors and in different countries, in combination with the process of interdisciplinary scientific discourse, will delay agreement for a longer time.

To promote the development and practical use of Social LCA the next important steps are to conduct more case studies, to establish a generally accepted list of well defined social indicators, to establish databases and to collect modules for the upstream chains and to compose an (extended) “code of practice” for Social LCA.

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