Social Life Cycle Assessment of waste management options. Some preliminary results Russi Daniela(*), Bala Gala Alba(*), Lehmann Annekatrin(+), Finkbeiner(+) Matthias, Fullana-i-Palmer Pere(*) (*) UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change, Escola Superior de Comerç Internacional (ESCI-UPF), Spain (+) Department of Environmental Technology, Chair of Sustainable Engineering, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany
The Social Life Cycle Assessment methodology
The Fenix project (2010-2012)
Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) is a methodology that aims at complementing the analysis of the environmental impacts of products and processes performed through environmental Life Cycle Assessment (E-LCA), with the analysis of social impacts over the entire life cycle. While E-LCA is already consolidated and used in a variety of applications, S-LCA is currently being developed. The "Guidelines for Analysis of Social Life Cycle of Products“, published by SETAC/UNEP in 2009, establish the main elements:
• Objective: to create a user-friendly and flexible software tool for assisting municipalities and regional governments of Spain and Portugal in easily obtaining environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) results on packaging waste management. The software will also include economic and social aspects.
Impact categories: logical groupings of S-LCA results, related to social issues of interest to stakeholders and decision makers (e.g. human rights; working conditions; health and safety).
• Partners: - UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change (coordinator), - Ecoembalajes (Ecoembes), the Spanish Green Dot holder (cofinancer), - Sociedade Ponto Verde (SPV), the Portuguese Green Dot holder, - PE International, consultancy specialized in LCA software development.
Subcategories: the socially relevant characteristics/attributes to be assessed. They detail the impact categories.
• Budget: approximately 2 million €.
Inventory indicators: indicators that assess the performance of the products/processes for each subcategory.
• More information: http://www.life-fenix.eu .
Inventory data: data collected in order to perform S-LCA.
Selection of the preliminary list of social impact subcategories • Literature review of S-LCA methods and social aspect assessment in waste management; • Analysis of the answers to the questionnaires sent out to waste Management Units (MUs)– i.e. municipalities or groups of municipalities who manage together their wastes– to perform a User Requirement Analysis for the FENIX software; • Analysis of software packages dealing with waste management.
Pre-selection of 13 social subcategories The final list of 8 impact subcategories The list of 13 subcategories was sent to a sample of end users: 1) Spanish regional governments; 2) 20 selected MUs in Spain and 10 in Portugal; 3) Spanish and Portuguese Green Dot holders. The respondents were asked to assess the relative importance of the subcategories by distributing 140 points among them. The following table shows the survey’s results. The social impact subcategories obtaining a high score (≥ 10%) are marked in green.
Social impact N. subcategories 1
Spanish regional governments (N=10)
Management Units (MUs) ES (N=20)
Weighted average (N=29) 12,9%
3 4 5
8,9% 9,5% 11,3%
9,9% 11,0% 10,4%
8,6% 12,1% 8,7%
9,5% 11,3% 9,9%
5,7% 8,6% 8,6%
14,3% 3,6% 3,6%
10,0% 6,1% 6,1%
Comprehension Labour right violations Private space Excessive work Unemployment Unequal opportunities Stressful working conditions Total
8,4% 6,1% 5,4%
5,7% 5,8% 4,9%
7,1% 5,5% 4,8%
6,1% 5,7% 4,9%
9,3% 6,4% 8,6%
7,1% 7,1% 7,1%
8,2% 6,8% 7,9%
8 9 10 11 12 13
“Labour right violations" was not included in the final list because it is not dependent on the waste management options
“Employment generation” was included in the final list because it is an important aim for society in general
Future steps: 1. Selection of the indicators that will be used to assess the available waste management options for each of the selected subcategories; 2. Collection of inventory data for the three stages of the life cycle of wastes (collection, transport; processing/recycling); 3. Introduction of the indicators in the Fenix software; 4. Validation by a sample of end users; 5. Final version of the indicators to be included in the software.
Discomfort caused by bad smells due to waste management.
Workplace health and safety
Lack of ailments and accidents resulting from waste management activities.
Green Dot holders
Odour Workplace health and safety Visual impact Noise Comfort
Based on the survey results, a final list of 8 social impact subcategories to be integrated in the Fenix software was selected.
3 4 5
Worsening in the appearance of the landscape Visual Impact due to waste management (e.g. unsightly temporary storage and treatment). Annoying sound caused by waste management Noise (e.g. during container emptying by trucks). Ease in waste management for citizens, which Comfort mostly depends on the time required for waste disposal. Space occupied by the waste storage system (bins or containers) or the treatment plant, in Urban space a given city, in relation to the actual availability of public space in the same city. Clarity of definition of the different waste Comprehension fractions for laypeople. Failure to contribute to employment Unemployment generation.
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Acknowledgements: The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the LIFE+ programme (LIFE08 ENV/E/000135). Ms. Lehman further acknowledges the support of her PhD grant, and her fruitful stay at ESCI-UPF in 2010. We also thanks Watson, J.; Roca, M., Pérez, M. and Leao, S for helping us in the selection of social impact categories, the definition of the methology to survey MUs and Integrated Managemetn Systems and gathering and treating this information to select the final list of 8 idicators.