Incorporating social LCA in circularity metrics to avoid the unintended consequences of circular economy

What are the social risks of circular economy transitions in various industries, and what role does social lifecycle assessment play in evaluating these risks? At the 5th PLATE conference this year, Anubhuti Bhatnagar and Kirsi Niinimäki from Aalto University shared suggestions for incorporating social LCA in circularity metrics to avoid the unintended consequences of circular economy.
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Abstract:

A sustainable transition towards a circular economy requires that businesses evaluate their environmental, economic, and social impact. Since there has been a limited effort for identifying the social impacts of businesses, social life cycle assessment (SLCA) was developed. In this paper, 44 peer-reviewed articles that reported the social consequences of a circular economy transition were identified and reviewed. The review shows that a circular transition may have negative consequences in waste recovery and recycling due to existing unfair labor practices in this sector or create social risks during material substitution, technology scale-up, or changes in the supply chains. However, uncertainty exists in the results because SLCA does not have a uniformly accepted methodology for data collection and analysis, which hinders the comparability of linear and circular economies. Researchers suggest that better stakeholder mapping, reviewing data collection techniques, and creating consensus-driven standard indicators will improve the social assessment of the circular economy.

 

Incorporating social lifecycle assessment in circularity metrics to avoid the unintended consequences of circular economy

Head here to read the article in the conference proceedings (pp. 116-122).

 

 

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