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Life Cycle Initiative

UNEP and SETAC have worked together through the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative to develop these guidelines from 2004 till 2009. An updated version is published in 2019.

A key objective of the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative is to help extend life cycle assessment (LCA) methods and practices: Social and socio-economic LCA guidelines complementing environmental LCA and Life Cycle Costing, contributing to the full assessment of goods and services within the context of sustainable development.

UNEP Guidelines for Social Life Cycle Assessment of Products

  • This is the first international voluntary guidance document to assess social impacts along the life cycle of products in a global context. It provides an analysis and description of the current practice of social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) as well as a methodology and suggests social impact categories linked to key stakeholders groups such as workers, consumers and local communities.
  • This publication will help decision makers to better understand and track the implications of the consumption and production of products over their life cycle in terms of impacts on the quality of work and life of people in both developed and developing economies.

Visit websites of Life Cycle Initiative  and  Social LC Alliance

ISO 26000 connection

These Guidelines proposes a two-fold classification of social impacts: by stakeholder categories and impact categories. A set of subcategories includes social and socio-economic issues of concerns.

These issues are being inspired by the ISO 26000 social responsibility issues that were already known in 2008 and beginning of 2009 (with help of ISO 26000 Task Group Leader Pierre Mazeau).

Download UNEP Social LCA

What is a Social LCA?

A social and socio-economic Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) is a social impact (and potential impact) assessment technique that aims to assess the social and socio-economic aspects of products and their potential positive and negative impacts along their life cycle encompassing extraction and processing of raw materials; manufacturing; distribution; use; re-use; maintenance; recycling; and final disposal. S-LCA complements Environmental-LCA (E-LCA) with social and socio-economic aspects. It can either be applied on its own or in combination with E-LCA.