WE.2.B || Social Life Cycle Assessment of Products

Adibi, Naeem; Van Hemelryck, Steven; McHardy, Cara; Voorend, Wannes

Industry, policymakers and consumers are incorporating environmental and social well-being as part of their practices. Life cycle assessment is a widely used method to assess the environmental impacts of processes, products and services. Meanwhile, social and economic assessments over the life cycle are under development. Although the social LCA guidelines are available and implemented in a few cases, no established set of metrics and indicators are available for the retail sector. This article presents the development of socio-economic indicators in the Colruyt group as a retail company. The 2020 edition of the Guidelines for Social Life Cycle Assessment of Products and Organisations serve as the basis to create an appropriate set of indicators for the retail sector. This set is then used to collect data to run a social LCA at both organisational and product level. A combined top-down and bottom-up approach serves as the basis for developing the socio-economic indicators presented in this project. Generally recognised societal values, sectorial/product-specific issues, and complexity associated with collecting data necessary for measurement of the indicators are all factors considered in this approach. A first data collection for the selected set of indicators is conducted at the product and organisational levels. This contribution aims to present the chosen socio-economic indicators to measure the product or organisation’s overall sustainability. It also seeks to share the learnings of implementing S-LCA in a large retail company and discuss future pathways to implement the social LCA method in the retail sector. There is a need to develop and refine methods to assess socio-economic indicators’ results using a life cycle perspective. Performing additional case studies that focus on such methodological development will provide useful background data to support implementation of the method on a broader scale.