Title

Measuring product sustainability: A literature review

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Date of Original Version

1-1-2020

Abstract

Since the turn of the new millennium, public awareness of sustainability has dramatically increased. Terms like “climate change” and “renewable energy” have become common household phrases. Sustainability is a holistic term referring to three main systems: humans, the economy, and the environment. Yet measuring the sustainability of a product remains difficult. The leading method for measuring the “eco-effectiveness” of a product is the Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) concept. C2C encourages products to be manufactured with alternative materials that are both nonhazardous and biodegradable, thus improving the output from industry into the environment. A main criticism of the C2C concept is that some aspects of a product's lifecycle, such as transportation or use, are not considered. For that reason, the existing literature suggests combining C2C with an Environmental Life Cycle Assessment (ELCA), which incorporates more environmental aspects into a product. The combination of C2C and ELCA does not, however, take into account human behavior. This paper suggests that product design should also include a Social Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA), which is a relatively new method of rating human factors into a product. This literature review therefore calls for a more inclusive method of measuring the three conventional levels of sustainability.

Publication Title

Proceedings of the 2016 Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference, ISERC 2016

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