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Sustainability indicators for biobased chemicals: A Delphi study using Multi- Criteria Decision Analysis

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Biobased chemistry has gained interest and has the potential to tackle some of the sustainability challenges the chemical industry must endure. Sustainability impacts need to be evaluated and monitored to highlight the advantages and pitfalls of different biobased routes over the entire product life cycle. This study aims for expert consensus concerning indicators needed and preferred for sustainability analysis of biobased chemicals in Europe. Experts are consulted by means of a Delphi method with stakeholders selected from three core groups: the private, public and academic sector. Best-Worst Scaling (BWS) is performed to gather data on the prioritization of the sustainability indicators per respondent. Afterwards, Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) is used to develop a consensus ranking among the experts. The results show that GHG emissions, market potential and acceptance of biobased materials are deemed the most crucial indicators for respectively environmental, economic and social sustainability. Expert consensus is positive in all three sustainability domains, with the strongest consensus measured for environmental sustainability showing a median Kendall’s τ of 0.63 (τ ranging from -1 to 1) and the weakest consensus found within social sustainability showing a median Kendall’s τ of 0.50. Further research can apply the ranked indicators on specific case studies to evaluate the practicability of the defined indicator set.
Journal: Resources, conservation and recycling
ISSN: 0921-3449
Volume: 144
Pages: 198 - 208
Publication year:2019
Keywords:Biobased chemicals, Sustainability indicators, Indicator selection, Delphi study, Best-worst scaling, Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis