Advertisement

Screening of socio-economic indicators for sustainability assessment: a combined life cycle assessment and data envelopment analysis approach

  • Diego Iribarren
  • Mario Martín-Gamboa
  • Tadhg O’Mahony
  • Javier Dufour
LIFE CYCLE SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT

Abstract

Purpose

The combination of life cycle assessment (LCA) and data envelopment analysis (DEA) has recently been proposed to integrate operational, environmental and, to a lesser extent, socio-economic aspects when evaluating multiple similar entities known as decision-making units (DMUs). While labour has already been proven to be an appropriate parameter for implementation in LCA + DEA studies, this article aims to increase the current range of socio-economic indicators suitable for their integration into this novel framework.

Methods

A sustainability-oriented LCA + DEA method is presented in this article. Furthermore, according to the singular features of the methodological approach, a set of four criteria is defined in order to test the suitability of 40 relevant socio-economic indicators for LCA + DEA implementation. These criteria include quantifiability, DMU specificity, data availability and data quality. Based on the degree of fulfilment of these criteria, the implementability of the indicators is classified as straightforward, likely, unlikely or excluded.

Results and discussion

According to the proposed criteria, 12 out of 40 socio-economic indicators are found to be suitable, i.e. their implementability in the LCA + DEA framework is considered either straightforward or likely. The difficulty in finding suitable LCA + DEA indicators is found to increase when considering stakeholders with a scope beyond the DMU level. Concerns about the suitability of socio-economic indicators for LCA + DEA as well as potentials and limitations of the approach as a sustainability assessment methodology are discussed.

Conclusions

A significant improvement in the socio-economic dimension of LCA + DEA studies for sustainability assessment is achieved. The method proposed is concluded to be a feasible approach for the sustainability assessment of multiple entities, but still with further potentials to be explored.

Keywords

Benchmarking Data envelopment analysis Efficiency Life cycle assessment Performance indicator Socio-economic Sustainability 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Dr. Tadhg O’ Mahony would like to thank the Marie Curie Actions AMAROUT-II (PEOPLECOFUND).

References

  1. Bernier E, Maréchal F, Samson R (2013) Life cycle optimization of energy-intensive processes using eco-costs. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:1747–1761CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Birkmann J (2007) Risk and vulnerability indicators at different scales: applicability, usefulness and policy implications. Environ Hazard 7:20–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bond AJ, Morrison-Saunders A (2011) Re-evaluating sustainability assessment: aligning the vision and the practice. Environ Impact Assess 31:1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cohen JE (1995) Population growth and Earth’s human carrying capacity. Science 269:341–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cooper WW, Seiford LM, Tone K (2007) Data envelopment analysis: a comprehensive text with models, applications, references and DEA-solver software. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Cooper WW, Seiford LM, Zhu J (2011) Handbook on data envelopment analysis. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dreyer L, Hauschild M, Schierbeck J (2006) A framework for social life cycle impact assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 11:88–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gerdessen JC, Pascucci S (2013) Data envelopment analysis of sustainability indicators of European agricultural systems at regional level. Agric Syst 118:78–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Guinée JB, Heijungs R, Huppes G, Zamagni A, Masoni P, Buonamici R, Ekvall T, Rydberg T (2011) Life cycle assessment: past, present, and future. Environ Sci Technol 45:90–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hara K, Uwasu M, Yabar H, Zhang H (2009) Sustainability assessment with time-series scores: a case study of Chinese provinces. Sustain Sci 4:81–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Heijungs R (2010) Ecodesign—carbon footprint—life cycle assessment—life cycle sustainability analysis—a flexible framework for a continuum of tools. Sci J Riga Tech Univ Environ Clim Technol 4:42–46Google Scholar
  12. Hertwich EG (2005) Consumption and the rebound effect—an industrial ecology perspective. J Ind Ecol 9:85–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Holm SO, Englund G (2009) Increased ecoefficiency and gross rebound effect: evidence from USA and six European countries 1960–2002. Ecol Econ 68:879–887CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hu M, Kleijn R, Bozhilova-Kisheva KP, Di Maio F (2013) An approach to LCSA: the case of concrete recycling. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:1793–1803CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Iribarren D (2010) Life cycle assessment of mussel and turbot aquaculture: application and insights. University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de CompostelaGoogle Scholar
  16. Iribarren D, Martín-Gamboa M (2014) Enhancing the economic dimension of LCA + DEA studies for sustainability assessment. In: Proceedings of the 4th World Sustainability Forum. MDPI, BaselGoogle Scholar
  17. Iribarren D, Vázquez-Rowe I (2013) Is labor a suitable input in LCA + DEA studies? Insights on the combined use of economic, environmental and social parameters. Soc Sci 2:114–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Iribarren D, Vázquez-Rowe I, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2010) Further potentials in the joint implementation of life cycle assessment and data envelopment analysis. Sci Total Environ 408:5265–5272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Iribarren D, Hospido A, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2011) Benchmarking environmental and operational parameters through eco-efficiency criteria for dairy farms. Sci Total Environ 409:1786–1798CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Iribarren D, Martín-Gamboa M, Dufour J (2013) Environmental benchmarking of wind farms according to their operational performance. Energy 61:589–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Iribarren D, Vázquez-Rowe I, Rugani B, Benetto E (2014a) On the feasibility of using energy analysis as a source of benchmarking criteria through data envelopment analysis: a case study for wind energy. Energy 67:527–537CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Iribarren D, Martín-Gamboa M, O’Mahony T, Dufour J (2014b) More than just a phrase: the benchmarking of sustainability performance for industry and policy-makers. In: Abstract book SETAC Europe 24th Annual Meeting. SETAC Europe, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  23. Iribarren D, Marvuglia A, Hild P, Guiton M, Popovici E, Benetto E (2015) Life cycle assessment and data envelopment analysis approach for the selection of building components according to their environmental impact efficiency: a case study for external walls. J Clean Prod 87:707–716CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. ISO (2006a) ISO 14040:2006 environmental management—life cycle assessment—principles and framework. International Organization for Standardization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  25. ISO (2006b) ISO 14044:2006 environmental management—life cycle assessment—requirements and guidelines. International Organization for Standardization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  26. ISO (2012) ISO 14045:2012 environmental management—eco-efficiency assessment of product systems—principles, requirements and guidelines. International Organization for Standardization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  27. Jeswani HK, Azapagic A, Schepelmann P, Ritthoff M (2010) Options for broadening and deepening the LCA approaches. J Clean Prod 18:120–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jørgensen A, Le Bocq A, Nazarkina L, Hauschild M (2008) Methodologies for social life cycle assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 13:96–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Klöpffer W (2008) Life cycle sustainability assessment of products. Int J Life Cycle Assess 13:89–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kruse SA, Flysjö A, Kasperczyk N, Scholz AJ (2009) Socioeconomic indicators as a complement to life cycle assessment—an application to salmon production systems. Int J Life Cycle Assess 14:8–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kurka T, Blackwood D (2013) Participatory selection of sustainability criteria and indicators for bioenergy developments. Renew Sust Energ Rev 24:92–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Labuschagne L, Brent AC (2006) Social indicators for sustainable project and technology life cycle management in the process industry. Int J Life Cycle Assess 11:3–15Google Scholar
  33. Lozano S, Iribarren D, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2009) The link between operational efficiency and environmental impacts: a joint application of life cycle assessment and data envelopment analysis. Sci Total Environ 407:1744–1754CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lozano S, Iribarren D, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2010) Environmental impact efficiency in mussel cultivation. Resour Conserv Recycl 54:1269–1277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Martínez-Blanco J, Lehmann A, Chang YJ, Finkbeiner M (2015) Social organizational LCA (SOLCA)—a new approach for implementing social LCA. Int J Life Cycle Assess 20:1586–1599CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mohammadi A, Rafiee S, Jafari A, Dalgaard T, Knudsen MT, Keyhani A, Mousavi-Avval SH, Hermansen JE (2013) Potential greenhouse gas emission reductions in soybean farming: a combined use of life cycle assessment and data envelopment analysis. J Clean Prod 54:89–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Norris GA (2001) Integrating life cycle cost analysis and LCA. Int J Life Cycle Assess 6:118–120Google Scholar
  38. Parent J, Cucuzzella C, Revéret JP (2013) Revisiting the role of LCA and SLCA in the transition towards sustainable production and consumption. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:1642–1652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pelletier N, Ustaoglu E, Benoit C, Norris G (2013) Social sustainability in trade and development policy. European Commission, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  40. Sala S, Farioli F, Zamagni A (2012a) Progress in sustainability science: lessons learnt from current methodologies for sustainability assessment: part 1. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:1653–1672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sala S, Farioli F, Zamagni A (2012b) Life cycle sustainability assessment in the context of sustainability science progress (part 2). Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:1686–1697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schmidheiny S (1992) Changing course: a global business perspective on development and the environment. MIT Press, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  43. Schmidt I, Meurer M, Sailing P, Kicherer A, Reuter W, Gensch C (2004) SEEbalance—managing sustainability of products and processes with the socio-eco-efficiency analysis by BASF. Greener Manag Int 45:79–94Google Scholar
  44. Simões CL, Pinto LMC, Simoes R, Bernardo CA (2013) Integrating environmental and economic life cycle analysis in product development: a material selection case study. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:1734–1746CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Singh RK, Murty HR, Gupta SK, Dikshit AK (2012) An overview of sustainability assessment methodologies. Ecol Indic 15:281–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Souza RG, Rosenhead J, Salhofer SP, Valle RAB, Lins MPE (2015) Definition of sustainability impact categories based on stakeholder perspectives. J Clean Prod 105:41–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Traverso M, Finkbeiner M, Jørgensen A, Schneider L (2012) Life cycle sustainability dashboard. J Ind Ecol 16:680–688CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. UNEP/SETAC (2009) Guidelines for social life cycle assessment of products. United Nations Environment Programme, ParisGoogle Scholar
  49. UNEP/SETAC (2011) Towards a life cycle sustainability assessment. UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative, ParisGoogle Scholar
  50. United Nations (2007) Indicators of sustainable development: guidelines and methodologies. United Nations, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  51. Valdivia S, Ugaya CML, Hildenbrand J, Traverso M, Mazijn B, Sonnemann G (2013) A UNEP/SETAC approach towards a life cycle sustainability assessment—our contribution to Rio + 20. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:1673–1685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Vázquez-Rowe I, Iribarren D (2015) Review of life-cycle approaches coupled with data envelopment analysis: launching the CFP + DEA method for energy policy making. Sci World J 813921:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Vázquez-Rowe I, Iribarren D, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2010) Combined application of life cycle assessment and data envelopment analysis as a methodological approach for the assessment of fisheries. Int J Life Cycle Assess 15:272–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Vázquez-Rowe I, Iribarren D, Hospido A, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2011) Computation of operational and environmental benchmarks within selected Galician fishing fleets (NW Spain). J Ind Ecol 15:776–795CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Vázquez-Rowe I, Villanueva-Rey P, Iribarren D, Moreira MT, Feijoo G (2012) Joint life cycle assessment and data envelopment analysis of grape production for vinification in the Rías Baixas appellation (NW Spain). J Clean Prod 27:92–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. WCED (1987) Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: our common future. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  57. Weidema BP (2006) The integration of economic and social aspects in life cycle impact assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 11:89–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Yarime M, Trencher G, Mino T, Scholz RW, Olsson L, Ness B, Frantzeskaki N, Rotmans J (2012) Establishing sustainability science in higher education institutions: towards an integration of academic development, institutionalization, and stakeholder collaborations. Sustain Sci 7:101–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zamagni A, Amerighi O, Buttol P (2011) Strengths or bias in social LCA? Int J Life Cycle Assess 16:596–598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zamagni A, Pesonen HL, Swarr T (2013) From LCA to life cycle sustainability assessment: concept, practice and future directions. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18:1637–1641CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diego Iribarren
    • 1
  • Mario Martín-Gamboa
    • 1
  • Tadhg O’Mahony
    • 1
  • Javier Dufour
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Systems Analysis UnitInstituto IMDEA EnergíaMóstolesSpain
  2. 2.Department of Chemical and Energy Technology, ESCETRey Juan Carlos UniversityMóstolesSpain

Personalised recommendations