Weighting and Scoring in Social Life Cycle Assessment

  • Breno Barros Telles do CarmoEmail author
  • Sara Russo Garrido
  • Gabriella Arcese
  • Maria Claudia Lucchetti
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Environmental Science book series (BRIEFSENVIRONMENTAL)


Social impact evaluation is one of the cornerstones of products and services sustainability. Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA hereafter) focuses on studying potential social impacts of products’ life cycle. As it is a relatively new analytical approach, no globally shared application tools have been developed for it yet. Communicating S-LCA results to decision-makers in order to promote social sustainable decisions is a challenge because it involves the aggregation of companies’ performances across impact categories through numerical variables based on value-choices. Currently, the weighting process (used for performance aggregation) considered for type I analysis in the literature presents some limits: lack of transparency, implicit choices, no standard weighting method and the failure to take into account the uncertainty of these value choices. This paper aims to address these limits by proposing a standard approach to conduct the weighting process for type I S-LCA. It starts after characterization phase and comprises four stages: (i) impact level scoring, (ii) functional unit aggregation, (iii) weighting factors definition and (iv) performances aggregation across impact categories. This approach is able to consider determinist or stochastic numerical variables, depending on the inclusion or not of the uncertainty associated to people’ value judgments. In terms of results, this paper presents an illustrative case study in order to exemplify how to conduct the weighting process in S-LCA. Considering the results, we identified some limits related to our approach: (i) depending on the subjects involved in S-LCA and the subcategory indicators considered for the assessment, it might not be possible to define standard weighting factors for all case studies; (ii) the type of uncertainty tackled on this approach is only associated with value choices – no other source of uncertainty is addressed and; (iii) the method used to assess qualitative social performances (scoring, check list or social hotspot database) can influence the aggregated social performance of product systems.


  1. 1.
    Benoit C, Norris GA, Valdivia S, Ciroth A, Moberg A, Bos U, Praksha S, Ugaya C, Beck T. The guidelines for social lifecycle assessment of products: Just in time! Int J Life Cycle Assess. 2010;15(2):156–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Carmo BBT, Margni M, Baptiste P. Addressing uncertain scoring and weighting factors in social life cycle assessment. Int J Life Cycle Assess. 2017;22(10):1609–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ekener-Petersen E, Finnveden G. Potential hotspot identified by social LCA – Part 1: A case study of a laptop computer. Int J Life Cycle Assess. 2013;18(1):127–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ugaya CML. The social assessment of products. In: Murray J, Mcbain D, Wiedmann T, editors. The sustainability practitioner’s guide to social analysis and assessment. Chicago: Commun Group; 2015. p. 18–27.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Russo Garrido S, Parent J, Beaulieu L, Revéret JP. A literature review of type I S-LCA – making the logic underlying methodological choices explicit. Int J Life Cycle Assess. 2018;23(3):432–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6. Accessed DD.MM.2018Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Sanchez-Ramirez PK, Petti L, Haberland NT, Ugaya CML. Subcategory assessment method for social life cycle assessment. Part 1: methodological framework. Int J Life Cycle Assess. 2014;19(8):1515–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bengtsson M. Weighting in practice: Implications for the use of life-cycle assessment in decision making. J Ind Ecol. 4(4):47–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    ISO 14040. Environmental management – life cycle assessment – principles and framework. Geneva, 2006.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Breno Barros Telles do Carmo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sara Russo Garrido
    • 2
  • Gabriella Arcese
    • 3
  • Maria Claudia Lucchetti
    • 4
  1. 1.Universidade Federal Rural do Semi Arido – Engineering CentreMossoróBrazil
  2. 2.CIRAIGMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo MoroBariItaly
  4. 4.Roma Tre UniversityRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations