Business strategy for sustainable development: Impact of life cycle inventory and life cycle impact assessment steps in supply chain design and planning

Bruna Alexandra Elias Mota, Ana Isabel Cerqueira de Sousa Gouveia Carvalho, Maria Isabel Azevedo Rodrigues Gomes, Ana Paula Ferreira Dias Barbosa-Povoa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sustainability reporting has become a central instrument in displaying a company's strategy and engagement with a more sustainable society. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an important tool in this context as it is aimed to analyze the entire life cycle of the product/service, instead of focusing on one focal firm. However, the lack of standardized guidelines in its application raises questions regarding the usefulness and validity of results. This study contributes to the improvement of sustainability reporting through the identification of the uncertainty sources in life cycle methodologies that have the biggest impact in the definition of business and environmental strategies, exploring a supply chain-oriented analysis. The focus is on life cycle inventory (LCI) and life cycle impact assessment (LCIA). A multiobjective optimization-based methodology is applied to a supply chain case study in the pulp and paper industry. Environmental and economic objectives are considered. Results show that different LCIA methods and different normalization data sets result in significantly different business and environmental strategies. However, different system models and cultural perspectives at the LCI step and variations in the characterization factors tend to lead to the same decisions. Important insights are gained regarding the impact of nonstandardized analysis of the application of LCA in supply chain design and planning decisions and consequently on business strategy definition and sustainability reporting. Furthermore, the importance of operations research methods to improve LCA-based studies and of bridging the gap between LCA and supply chain management bodies of knowledge is highlighted in this work.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness Strategy And The Environment
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

Keywords

  • life cycle assessment
  • life cycle impact assessment
  • life cycle inventory
  • multiobjective optimization
  • supply chain design and planning
  • sustainability reporting

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