Transition Towards a Sustainable Biobased Economy
Chapter 6: Social Assessment
Published:26 Feb 2020
The transition from an economy based on fossil fuels to one based on renewable resources is an integral part of the objectives tied to sustainability. In this respect, bio-based products can play a pivotal role whether they are proven to achieve the three dimensions of sustainability. However, following a general tendency in the literature, socio-economic aspects associated with bio-based products have been neglected as compared to environmental aspects. Yet, social sustainability has become a growing challenge, with important effects for bio-based products market uptake and for creating a level playing field with fossil-based counterparts. A life cycle approach is considered particularly appropriate for assessing bio-based products given that sustainable sources of raw materials, as well as sustainable end of life options, have been strongly recommended by international institutions and policy makers. This chapter proposes a Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) framework for bio-based products derived by means of a two-step analysis based on the: (i) identification and mapping of relevant stakeholders according to their power and interest towards bio-based products; (ii) validation and integration of a relevant set of social impact categories, subcategories and indicators, previously identified via a literature review, by engaging the identified stakeholders in four context-related interactive workshops.