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Social Life Cycle Assessment: Specific Approach and Case Study for Switzerland

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Lobsiger-Kägi Evelyn, López Luis, Kuehn Tobias, Roth Raoul, Carabias Vicente, Zipper Christian,
Project PV2050: Sustainability, market deployment and interaction to the grid - the impacts of advanced photovoltaic solutions
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Sustainability
Volume (Issue) 10(12)
Page(s) 4382 - 4382
Title of proceedings Sustainability
DOI 10.3390/su10124382

Open Access

URL http://doi.org/10.3390/su10124382
Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)

Abstract

This article proposes a specific social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) approach, to be applied in a case study on energy production in Switzerland. The aim of the present study is to describe the social conditions along the global supply chains and to compare them with the social situation in Switzerland. Therefore, a specific S-LCA methodology was developed that combines a relevance analysis with a performance reference point (PRP) assessment. The relevance analysis is carried out to identify the most relevant unit processes and S-LCA indicators and the Swiss PRPs (SPRPs) are designed to compare the social issues along the value chain to the situation in Switzerland. The methodology was applied to two life cycle stages of the copper supply chain (resource extraction and wire production), relevant for the production of renewable energy technologies, where it was found that the most critical step is mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) due to the artisanal way of mining. The proposed methodology offers a comprehensive overview for the analysis of supply chains and the comparison of different life cycle phases. Nevertheless, the methodology can result in a very coarse resolution with low validity. However, if the data and the results are treated transparently, they provide meaningful information about the social conditions along the supply chain.
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