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Environmental appraisal of green production systems: Challenges faced by small companies using life cycle assessment

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Oliver Heidrich, Dr Abhishek Tiwary


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This paper presents a snapshot of key challenges encountered by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) devoted to green production systems acting on the call to substantiate their environmental claims. It highlights the overriding barriers of SMEs to meeting the standards for conducting credible product life cycle assessment (LCA), in terms of accessibility to customised data and epistemological limitations. This is illustrated using a real-world example describing the material and process flows for a recycling company. We demonstrate that the rigour towards compiling large (and in some cases nested) data sets, involving expert know-how and adequate representation of system boundary can pose operational barriers. This is underpinned by complications of conducting green production and process-based LCA, deemed essential in ascertaining product and process sustainability. Finally, the paper discusses issues highlighted by the case study and provides useful directions for production researchers, SMEs and consultants.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Heidrich O, Tiwary A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Production Research

Year: 2013

Volume: 51

Issue: 19

Pages: 5884-5896

Print publication date: 14/06/2013

ISSN (print): 0020-7543

ISSN (electronic): 1366-588X

Publisher: Taylor & Francis


DOI: 10.1080/00207543.2013.807372


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