Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
How to socially assess biofuels: a case study of the UNEP/SETAC Code of Practice for social- economical LCA
2009 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Due to the escalating environmental debate, the interest and investments in new and green fuel alternatives have never been larger. However, concerns have increased over the effects that the production of biofuels might have, both on the environment and on social issues. For example, there are reports of slave-like working conditions in the Brazilian sugarcane fields and the link between biofuel production and increasing world food prices are given much space in the media. The question now is how to get a full picture of the effects and to be able to compare different fuel alternatives. There are methods for analyzing and comparing the life cycles of products, both environmentally and economically, but until now there has not been a proper methodology to perform a social assessment. However, a task force initiated under the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative has now developed a code of practice for guidance in this area that was planned to be released in January 2009. The purpose of this master’s thesis is to describe the UNEP/SETAC Code of Practice for social and socio-economical LCA and to investigate how to use the Code of Practice when assessing ethanol, biodiesel and biogas. The aim of the thesis is to decide upon the applicability of the UNEP/SETAC Code of Practice in its current state when conducted on biofuels by an outside practitioner. The research presented in this thesis consists of an initial literature review in order to increase the knowledge of sustainability, biofuels and life cycle assessment in general, and to analyse the UNEP/SETAC Code of Practice in particular. This thorough review is followed by a case study based on the knowledge and results from the preceding chapters. In this case study, the guidelines in the Code of Practice were followed and a hotspot assessment of the three biofuels was performed in order to gain a deeper understanding on how the code works and to get a perception of the user friendliness. The case study investigated the social implications surrounding the production of ethanol, biodiesel and biogas and, after extensive data collection, assessment and interpretation, it was concluded that the biofuel with the least social impact is biogas. During the social life cycle assessment it was clear that even though there was a successful assessment with an evident result, the Code of Practice needs more fine tuning in order to be successful when comparing different products. Furthermore, it was concluded that a company-specific assessment would be easier to conduct, instead of this type of generic study, since social issues are strongly linked to the performance of the company management. The thesis also provides suggestions on how to enhance the usefulness of the Code of Practice. Means must be found to circumvent the large influence of the practitioners’ subjectivity. Suggestions for achieving this are, for example, developing a universal set of indicators, databases for social aspects, and well functioning characterization models.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Technology, Social life cycle assessment, sLCA, biofuels, social, indicators
Keyword [sv]
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-46146ISRN: LTU-EX--09/077--SELocal ID: 3c99d3ec-a90b-4b25-9ff6-482f64dab6bfOAI: diva2:1019458
Subject / course
Student thesis, at least 30 credits
Educational program
Industrial and Management Engineering, master's level
Validerat; 20101217 (root)Available from: 2016-10-04 Created: 2016-10-04Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(2232 kB)0 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 2232 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 75 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link