Fürtner, Daniela; Hesser, Franziska

Whilst assessing the socio-economic sustainability of products with Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA) was gaining popularity in recent years, the assessment during the R&D phase is rather new but associated with considerable advantages. Potentially negative socio-economic implications can be identified at an early stage and thus, be eliminated or improved in the course of further development in terms of the precautionary principle. As not only negative implications can be assessed in SLCA, but also positive consequences can be identified, special emphasis can be given to reinforce positive effects. Wood-based value chains are considered to be more sustainable, however, this is not automatically true in every case. To meet the demand for woody biomass, Short Rotation Coppice can be utilized. The present case study aims to implement an early stage SLCA in order to ensure a socio-economic sustainable management form by identifying potential social risks as well as benefits for the rural population. This is relevant for both, LCA researchers and practitioners to guide assessments but also for policy- and decision-makers in industry to introduce more sustainable products. As data availability is inherently sparse at an early stage of development, statistical datasets on a generic level are used and a feedback loop is embedded to work in close collaboration with product developers. This encourages the sharing of findings, but also the feedback of specific data as it becomes available. The results show that it is possible to strengthen the region by increasing the value added. Particularly beneficial is the creation of jobs, which provide an opportunity for ethnic minorities and poorly educated people as unemployment is relatively high among these groups. A reduction of the social risk potential could be considered by minimizing the risk of fatal accidents and reducing negative health effects due to the use of fertilizers or high levels of particulate matter.