Keywords: life cycle assessment, LCA, social impacts, developing countries, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, CSR, economic input-output analysis, life cycle engineering, sustainable development, sustainable manufacturing
The role of the social dimension in life cycle engineering
Sustainability recognises the interdependence of ecological, social and economic systems and nowhere is the concept of sustainability more critical than in developing nations, whose economies rely heavily on natural resources. Software for life cycle assessment (LCA) is becoming increasingly effective in evaluating the potential environmental and resource impacts of design and supply chain decisions. As more decision-makers commit to sustainability, there is increasing pressure to incorporate economic and social considerations into LCA. In addition, it may be necessary to incorporate social impacts to ensure LCA is relevant with respect to developing countries. The degree to which social impacts have been included in LCA is briefly reviewed and metrics associated with social impacts are discussed. Input-output analysis is introduced as a method for considering social impacts.