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Social Hotspot Analysis and Trade Policy Implications of the Use of Bioelectrochemical Systems for Resource Recovery from Wastewater

Shemfe, Bolaji, Gadkari, Siddharth and Sadhukhan, Jhuma (2018) Social Hotspot Analysis and Trade Policy Implications of the Use of Bioelectrochemical Systems for Resource Recovery from Wastewater Sustainability, 10 (9), 3193.

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Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) have been catalogued as a technological solution to three pressing global challenges: environmental pollution, resource scarcity, and freshwater scarcity. This study explores the social risks along the supply chain of requisite components of BESs for two functionalities: (i) copper recovery from spent lees and (ii) formic acid production via CO2 reduction, based on the UK’s trade policy. The methodology employed in this study is based on the UNEP/SETAC guidelines for social life-cycle assessment (S-LCA) of products. Relevant trade data from UN COMTRADE database and generic social data from New Earth’s social hotspot database were compiled for the S-LCA. The results revealed that about 75% of the components are imported from the European Union. However, the social risks were found to vary regardless of the magnitude or country of imports. “Labour and Decent Work” was identified as the most critical impact category across all countries of imports, while the import of copper showed relatively higher risk than other components. The study concludes that BESs are a promising sustainable technology for resource recovery from wastewater. Nevertheless, it is recommended that further research efforts should concentrate on stakeholder engagement in order to fully grasp the potential social risks.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Centre for Environmental Strategy
Authors :
Date : 6 September 2018
Funders : EPSRC; NERC
DOI : 10.3390/su10093193
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2018 by the authors. Submitted for possible open access publication under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Uncontrolled Keywords : social life cycle assessment; trade policy; resource recovery from waste; circular economy; electrochemical biorefineries
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 02 Oct 2018 08:18
Last Modified : 10 Jun 2019 15:09

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