Assessing the Sustainability of Materials Throughout Their Life Cycle Using a Single Methodology


The global trading of complex products brings the sustainability of materials to the forefront. Currently, sustainability assessment is disparate, with numerous methodologies available to determine the credentials of specific materials, while a single approach has not yet been developed to ascertain the sustainability of any material throughout its life cycle.
This study employs the Delphi methodology to obtain the opinions of sustainability experts to determine “Which indicators should be used to evaluate the sustainability of a material throughout its life cycle?”. This Delphi study uses three district rounds of questioning. The first round aims to identify the impacts relating to material sustainability within the supply chain; the second round then uses a five-point Likert scale to determine which of the impacts identified in round one are “very important” (5) or “not important” (1); the third round uses the Analytic Hierarchy Process to provide the weighting methodology for the chosen indicators. The results of the first round of the Delphi study were inductively coded and identified seven overarching categories; social, socio-economic, economic, enviro-economic, environmental, end of life and second life. Opportunities relating to sustainability measurement were identified as; access to collaborative research, the implementation of Industry 4.0 strategies and sustainable product design. Several challenges to measuring sustainability, such as access to data, reliable assessment methodologies and education throughout the supply chain were also identified. This data provides a platform upon which a robust and meaningful methodology will be developed to assess the sustainability of a material throughout its life cycle.

Author Information
Lucy Smith, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
Taofeeq Ibn-Mohammed, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Ian Reaney, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
S. C. Lenny Koh, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Paper Information
Conference: ACSEE2020
Stream: Economic Sustainability: Environmental Challenges and Economic Growth

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon