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The Bio-based Products Social Sustainability Workshop was held on the 27th of September 2018 from 11:00 to 13:00, as a side event of the IFIB- International Forum on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioeconomy (https://ifib2018.b2match.io). Social Life Cycle Assessment may involve a broad spectrum of aspects directly affecting stakeholders, encompassing human rights, working conditions, health and safety issues, equity, social responsibility, job creation and participation in society. Therefore, the consideration of stakeholders perspectives, when formulating the most relevant aspects to be included in a social sustainability assessment for bio-based products, is of major importance.
- 11 stakeholders of different categories (e.g. general society, consumers, producers, NGOs, European projects and researchers) were involved in validating a list of the most relevant social topics and indicators related to bio-based products, which was previously identified by means of two rounds of an in-depth literature review
- Most of the social topics presented to the stakeholders such as Human rights, Health and safety, Social benefits/ social security, Social acceptability, Contribution to economy and Food security were validated. On the other hand, few were recommended for removal.
- With reference to the indicators associated to the afore-mentioned social topics, Tests performed to check safety, Quality of information/signs on product health and safety, Management efforts to minimize use of hazardous substances, Compliance with regulations regarding transparency, Publication of a sustainability report, Communication of the results of social and environmental life cycle impact assessment, Certification or documentation about sustainability issues, Land use change, and Local employment produced were top ranked.
Pasquale Marcello Falcone and Enrica Imbert
The sustainability of bio-based products, especially when compared with fossil based products, must be assured. The life cycle approach has proven to be a promising way to analyze the social, economic and environmental impacts of bio-based products along the whole value chain. Until now, however, the social aspects have been under-investigated in comparison to environmental and economic aspects. In this context, the present paper aims to identify the main social impact categories and indicators that should be included in a social sustainability assessment of bio-based products, with a focus on the consumers’ category. To identify which social categories and indicators are most relevant, we carry out a literature review on existing social life cycle studies; this is followed by a focus group with industrial experts and academics. Afterwards, we conduct semi-structured interviews with some consumer representatives to understand which social indicators pertaining to consumers are perceived as relevant. Our findings highlight the necessity for the development and dissemination of improved frameworks capable of exploiting the consumers’ role in the ongoing process of market uptake of bio-based products. More specifically, this need regards the effective inclusion of some social indicators (i.e., end users’ health and safety, feedback mechanisms, transparency, and end-of-life responsibility) in the social life cycle assessment scheme for bio-based products. This would allow consumers, where properly communicated, to make more informed and aware purchasing choices, therefore having a flywheel effect on the market diffusion of a bio-based product.
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