Relevance and feasibility of the existing social LCA methods and case studies from a decision-making perspective

Karpagam Subramanian, Chi Kwan Chau, Winco K.C. Yung

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the existing social life cycle assessment (SLCA) literature (theoretical and case studies) from decision making perspective. In order to tackle this, a critical review of 90 published work, including journal papers, conference proceedings and book chapters was undertaken. The selected articles were analyzed with a focus on methodological framework, boundary scoping, data inventories and practices. The analysis highlighted the inadequacies in the existing frameworks in terms of flexibility, conflicts in choosing and defining Area of Protection (AoP). Lack of consideration of social conditions of stakeholders in no-work and no-use phase, lack of inclusion of positive impacts, less attention to suppliers and consumers and choice of subjective indicators are highlighted as some weak portions within the boundary scoping. Less coverage of contextual and indirect indicators, and absence of documentation of a link between data collected (subjective indicators) and product activities are highlighted as a limitation within inventories, and finally within practices, lack of benchmarks is highlighted. This analysis highlighted an important differentiating factor between the actual definition of sustainability (maintenance of stocks for future generation) and the most common interpretation in literature as a summation of the three (social, environmental and economic) indices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-703
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2018


  • Case studies
  • Decision making
  • Impact assessment
  • Review
  • SLCIA methods
  • Social life cycle assessment
  • Societal LCA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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