Assessing Supply Risks within Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment

1. Background and motivation

Secure supply chains of goods and services consumed within Swiss economy and society are essential to guarantee a sustainable development in key sectors such as food and clothing, information and communi-cation, energy provision and storage, and mobility. The fabrication of products within these sectors is tak-ing place locally and in remote parts of the world. The entire global supply chain of the materials used in these products commonly involves parties in various countries worldwide (Nuss et al. 2016). A high num-ber of practitioners within the supply chain increases the potential of different types of supply disruptions along an entire product life cycle (see figure below).


2. Goal and scope

Criticality assessment allows for evaluating the potential of such supply disruptions by applying supply risk indicators (Achzet and Helbig 2013; Frenzel et al. 2017). Literature reveals a variety of such indicators and their related evaluation procedures, but mostly only risks occurring at early supply stages are addressed so far. An issue within the sustainability assessment developed in the OASES project is how to comprehen-sively quantify supply risks occurring along global supply chains for Switzerland. Environmental, econom-ic and social impacts along supply chains can already be evaluated in Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA), while supply risks are mostly assessed separately with various criticality assessment approaches (Graedel and Reck 2016; Schrijvers et al. 2019; UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Iniative 2011). Hence, a mean-ingful integration of pertinent supply risk indicators into an LCSA frame would allow for a more compre-hensive assessment of a supply chain. However, for such an integration, we need to consider the compat-ibility of supply risk indicator scoring and aggregation with life cycle inventory (LCI) and life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) information (Figure 2). 


3. Methodology

As a first step within the Work package 3 of the OASES project, we identify and prioritize supply risk in-dicators that are suitable for assessing supply risks along supply chains within LCSA. Our prioritization is based on: (i) a literature review of supply risk indicators used in criticality assessment approaches and the analysis of their suitability and current application in assessments along a supply chain; (ii) the evaluation of the coverage of constitutive supply risk indicators by three common LCA databases and additional data sources; (iii) the examination of current LCIA methods for the assessment of resource depletion in a view of such a supply risk assessment. In a second step, we develop a methodology that allows for an assess-ment of supply risks along an entire supply chain, by integrating the in step one prioritized supply risk indicators into LCSA. The developed methodology is tested on a case study considering the supply chain of materials applied within key sectors of the Swiss economy and society. In a third step, we evaluate the developed methodology regarding its suitability for assessing supply risks in future supply scenarios and we discuss adjustments on the developed methodology.



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