Skip to main content
Log in

Designing the social life cycle of products from the systematic competitive model

  • SOCIETAL LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT
  • Published:
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Purpose

Changes affecting how product chains function can have a profound impact on human communities. Certain social life cycle assessment (LCA) methods aim to anticipate the important social effects of changes taking place in the functioning of a product’s life cycle. They therefore must identify the groups that are most affected. This paper aims to help identify the groups affected by competition beyond those usually highlighted. The objective is to propose rules to identify the organisations involved in the social life cycle of a product within a context of competition. Once these organisations are identified, it is possible to deduce which groups are affected.

Methods

We analyse how published social LCA studies describe the product system and determine its boundaries. We deduce the necessity of constructing (1) a new model (the systematic competitive model) when there is competition and (2) a cut-off criterion (significant dependency). These allow us to describe the system and determine its boundaries, and thus to draw the social life cycle, in a context of competition. We conducted a simple case study (calculation of the number of rural jobs created/destroyed by a new agricultural filière) in which two methods of representing a product system are compared. The first method is the value chain (which does not take into account the situation prior to the establishment of the planned new filière), the second method introduces the systematic competitive model, which includes the short term effects of competition with the planned activities.

Results

The case study shows that it is possible to define the social life cycle by proceeding in this way. The two ways of representing the same real system produce very different results. The list of organisations affected and the nature of the impact to be assessed determine which actors are affected.

Conclusions

The use of the systematic competitive model is indispensable when competition is intense. The organisations to be included in the boundaries of the social LCA (SLCA) study are those whose behaviour with social effects is significantly affected by the changes. Furthermore, there are numerous other phenomena linked to products that provoke important social impacts, but we do not yet know how to model them. They call for further research. Environmental LCA (ELCA) and SLCA studies of the same real system will be coherent, even if the descriptions of the system and the rules of fixing the boundaries differ, provided they reflect the same scenario.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Similar content being viewed by others

Notes

  1. From Ekvall (2000), indirect impacts are environmental consequences that are outside of the physical supply chain and result from market forces.

  2. A service activity mainly is characterised by the offer of a technical or intellectual capacity. Understood in the broadest sense, services cover a wide field of activities that range from commerce to administration, passing through financial and real estate activities, scientific and technical activities, administrative and support services, education, health, and social services. This is the meaning generally understood in the Anglo-Saxon use of the word “services” (INSEE 2011).

  3. The farm register of MAFWM only registers agricultural holdings which receive state support from the agricultural budget and/or which actively sell their products on the market.

  4. The annual pork meat consumption in France is 34 kg per capita in 2009 (IFIP 2010).

  5. The calculation was: 150 sows per new farm means seven packs of 21 sows; thus, 147 × 16 fattened pigs/sow/year × 70 kg carcass/pig (see Electronic Supplementary Material 2)

References

  • Andrews E, Lesage P, Benoît C, Parent J, Norris G, Revéret J-P (2009) Life cycle attribute assessment. J Ind Ecol 13(4):565–578

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Antunović et al (2004) Adjustment of swine housing conditions to EU member countries legislation. Krmiva 46:313–320

    Google Scholar 

  • Arcotrass (2006) Study on the state of agriculture in five applicant countries—Croatia Country report. December 2006, Arcotrass-Consortium, European Commission, Bruxelles

  • Barthel L, Wolf M, Eyerer P (2005) Methodology of life cycle sustainability for sustainability assessments. Presentation on the 11th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference (AISDRC) 6th–8th of June 2005, Helsinki, Finland

  • Benoît C, Norris G et al (2010) The guidelines for social life cycle assessment of products: just in time! Int J Life Cycle Assess 15(2):156–163

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brandenburger AM, Nalebuff BJ (1996) Co-opetition: a revolution mindset that combines competition and cooperation: the game theory strategy that's changing the game of business. Currency Doubleday, New York

  • CBSRC Central Bureau of statistics Republic of Croatia (2009) Number of livestock and poultry. In: communication, 1.1.10, 31/03/2009. http://www.dzs.hr/hrv/publication/2009/1-1-10_1h2009.htm

  • CIA World Factbook (2010) Croata Unemployment rate, March 11, 2010

  • Ciroth A, Franze J (2011) LCA of an ecolabeled notebook—consideration of social and environmental impacts along the entire life cycle. GreenDeltaTC GmbH, Berlin

  • Dreyer LC, Hauschild MZ, Schierbeck J (2006) A framework for social life cycle impact assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 11(2):88–97

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dreyer LC, Hauschild MZ, Schierbeck J (2010) Characterisation of social impacts in LCA Part 1: development of indicators for labour rights. Int J Life Cycle Assess 15:247–259

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Earles JM, Halog A (2011) Consequential life cycle assessment: a review. Int J Life Cycle Assess 16:445–453

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ekvall T (2000) A market-based approach to allocation at open-loop recycling. Resour Conserv Recycl 29(1–2):91–109

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gereffi G, Humphrey J, Sturgeon T (2005) The governance of global value chains. Rev Int Polit Econ 12(1):78–104

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hofstetter P, Norris GA (2003) Why and how should we assess occupational health impacts in integrated product policy? Environ Sci Technol 37(10):2025–2035

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hunkeler D (2006) Societal LCA methodology and case study. Int J Life Cycle Assess 11(6):371–382

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hunkeler D, Rebitzer G (2005) The future of life cycle assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 10(5):305–308

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hutchins MJ, Sutherland JW (2008) An exploration of measures of social sustainability and their application to supply chain decisions. J Cleaner Prod 16(15):1688–1698

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • IFIP (2010) Production porcine dans l’Union Européenne, chiffres clés, édition septembre 2010. IFIP (French Institute of Pig)

  • INSEE (2011) Definition of service. http://www.insee.fr/fr/methodes/default.asp?page=definitions/services.htm. Accessed 9 November 2011

  • ISO (2006) Environmental Management—life cycle assessment—Principles and framework. ISO 14040:2006. International organization for Standardization, Geneva

  • Jeorgensen A, Le Bocq A, Nazarkina L, Hauschild MZ (2008) Methodologies for social life cycle assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 13(2):96–103

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jeorgensen A, Finkbeiner M, Jeorgensen MS, Hauschild MZ (2010) Defining the baseline in social life cycle assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess 15(4):376–384

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Klöpffer W (2003) Life-cycle based methods for sustainable product development. Int J Life Cycle Assess 8(3):157–159

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Krivec L, Sreckovic A (1989). Pig raising in Yugoslavia, Paris CIHEAM 1989/03 p. 25–39, Options Méditerranéennes, Série Etudes, Seminar about production of Pig Meat in Mediterranean countries 1986/04/21-23, Belgrade (Yougoslavie)

  • Kruse SA, Flysjö A, Kasperczyk N (2009) Socioeconomic indicators as a complement to life cycle assessment—an application to salmon production systems. Int J Life Cycle Assess 14:8–18

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • MAFWM (2009) Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development of the Republic of Croatia. Edition 2000, Zagreb, June 2009. ISBN 978-953-6718-13-9

  • Mitchell J, Coles C, Keane J (2009) Upgrading along value chains: strategies for poverty reduction in Latin America. COPLA Global—Overseas Development Institute, London

  • Neilson J, Pritchard B (2010) Fairness and ethicality in their place: the regional dynamics of fair trade and ethical sourcing agendas in the plantation districts of South India. Environ Plan A 42(8):1833–1851

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Norris G (2006) Social impacts in product life cycles—towards life cycle attribute assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess (special issue) 11:97–104

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • O’Brien M, Doig A, Clift R (1996) Social and Environmental Life Cycle Assessment (SELCA) approach and methodological development. Int J Life Cycle Assess 1(4):231–237

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Parent J, Cucuzzella C et al (2010) Impact assessment in SLCA: sorting the sLCIA methods according to their outcomes. Int J Life Cycle Assess 15(2):164–171

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Porter ME (1985) Competitive advantage: creating and sustaining superior performance. 1st ed. Free Press, New York

  • Reap J, Roman F, Duncan S, Bras B (2008) A survey of unresolved problems in life cycle assessment: part 1. Goal and scope and inventory analysis. Int J Life Cycle Assess 13:290–300

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rotschild WE (1984) How to gain (and maintain) the competitive advantage in business. McGraw-Hill, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Schmidt JH, Weidema B (2009) Response to the public consultation on a set of guidance documents of the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) Handbook, 2.-0 LCA consultants. Available at: http://www.lca-net.com/files/SchmidtWeidema2009ResponseILCDHandbook.pdf. Accessed 15 June 2011

  • Sosic V (2005) Poverty and labor market policies in Croatia. Financ Theor Pract 29(1):55–73

    Google Scholar 

  • Spillemaeckers S, Vanhoutte G, Taverniers L, Lavrysen L, van Braeckel D, Mazijn B, Rivera JD (2004) Integrated product assessment—the development of the label “sustainable development” for products ecological, social and economical aspects of integrated product policy. Belgian Science Policy, Belgium

    Google Scholar 

  • Swarr TE (2009) Societal life cycle assessment—could you repeat the question? Int J Life Cycle Assess 14:285–289

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • UNEP/SETAC (2009) Guidelines for social LCA of products. Benoît C, Mazijn B (eds), UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi (Kenya)

  • van Schooten M, Vanclay F et al (2003) Conceptualizing social change processes and social impacts. In: Becker HA, Vanclay F (eds) The International handbook of social impact assessment. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp 74–91

    Google Scholar 

  • Weidema B (1993) Market aspects in product life cycle inventory methodology. J Cleaner Prod 1(3–4):161–166

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weidema B (2005) ISO also applies to social LCA. Int J Life Cycle Assess 10(6):381

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weidema B (2009) Avoiding or ignoring uncertainty. J Ind Ecol 13(3):354–356

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weidema B, Frees N, Nielsen A-M (1999) Marginal production technologies for life cycle inventories. Int J Life Cycle Assess 4(1):48–56

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wellbrock W, Oosting SJ, Bock BB, Antunović B, Kralik G (2009) Harmonization of welfare standards for the protection of pigs with the EU rules: the case of Croatia. Ital J Anim Sci 8(suppl 3):21–38

    Google Scholar 

  • Wellbrock et al (2010) Smallholder pig farming in Croatia: destined to become extinct or worth saving? Actes 9th European International Farming System Association, Vienna, 4–7 July 2010, WS2.3

Download references

Acknowledgements

C. Macombe is member of the ELSA research group (Environmental Life Cycle and Sustainability Assessment, http://www.elsa-lca.org/); she thanks all the members of ELSA for their precious advice. The authors thank the helpful comments made by three reviewers.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Catherine Macombe.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Thomas Swarr

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Electronic Supplementary Material 1

(DOC 69.5 kb)

Electronic Supplementary Material 2

(DOC 165 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lagarde, V., Macombe, C. Designing the social life cycle of products from the systematic competitive model. Int J Life Cycle Assess 18, 172–184 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-012-0448-1

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-012-0448-1

Keywords

Navigation