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Integrating Environmental and Social Life Cycle Assessment: Asking the Right Question

Suckling, James and Lee, Jacquetta (2017) Integrating Environmental and Social Life Cycle Assessment: Asking the Right Question Journal for Industrial Ecology.

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Abstract

Mobile phones offer many potential social benefits throughout their lifetime, but this life is often much shorter than design intent. Reuse of the phone in a developing country allows these social benefits to be fully realized. Unfortunately, under the current state of development of recycling infrastructure, recovery rates of phones after reuse are very low in those markets, which may lead to an environmental burden due to loss of materials to landfill. In order to recover those materials most effectively, recycling in developed countries may be the best option, but at a cost of the ability to reuse the phones. The issues facing integration of social and environmental concerns into a single life cycle assessment and resulting challenges of identifying the disposal option with the most sustainable outcome are explored using mobile phones as a case study. These include obtaining sufficient geographical and temporal detail of the end of life options, the collation and analysis of the large amounts of data generated and the weighting of the disparate environmental and social impact categories. The numerous challenges may mount up to make performing life cycle assessment of mobile phones unwieldy. Instead of trying to encompass every aspect in full, it is proposed that focus is given to answering a question which takes into account the resources available: it is important to ask the question which has the best chance of being answered.

Item Type: Article
Subjects : Centre for Environment and Sustainability
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Centre for Environmental Strategy
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Suckling, Jamesj.suckling@surrey.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Lee, JacquettaJ.Lee@surrey.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Date : 25 May 2017
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright 2016 Yale University. Published by Wiley-Blackwell in the Journal for Industrial Ecology. The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com.
Uncontrolled Keywords : mobile phone, life cycle assessment (LCA), end of life product, recycling, reuse
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 25 Nov 2016 10:11
Last Modified : 18 Jul 2017 14:59
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/812956

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