Social life cycle assessment of a desalination and resource recovery plant on a remote island: Analysis of generic and site-specific perspectives

Georgios Archimidis Tsalidis*, Dimitrios Xevgenos, Rodoula Ktori, Adithya Krishnan, John A. Posada

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The sustainable supply of water is crucial, especially on islands where water is scarce. Our study applied the social life cycle assessment (S-LCA), under the organizational approach, to assess industrial water production on the island of Lampedusa, Italy. A novel plant for industrial water production considering a circular concept was compared with the existing linear production plant based on reverse osmosis. An online survey, brief literature review and generic analysis were conducted to prioritize impact subcategories selection for site-specific analysis that regarded six organizations in the system boundaries. These subcategories were Local employment, Access to material resources, Promoting social responsibility, End-of-life responsibility, Health and safety (Workers), and Public commitment to sustainability issues. The social performance of organizations involved was assessed based on equal weighting and weighting with cost values. The generic analysis showed that wastewater treatment in Italy is underdeveloped, and water scarcity can become a serious problem in the future. The site-specific analysis based on equal weighting showed that the novel water plant results in improving social performance for all considered impact subcategories by 88 % to 91 % due to co-production when compared with the existing plant. Even increasing impacts allocation to industrial water production social benefits are still expected due to co-production. The type of weighting based on cost values showed that two organizations are the main contributors to the social performance of the novel system, and improving their corporate conduct can result in improving impacts up to 25 %, such as Public commitment to sustainability issues. To conclude, the novel plan does provide social benefits but mainly due to co-production, thus, it should be investigated more how to apply the S-LCA to linear production systems as they become more circular.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-423
Number of pages12
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • Circular economy
  • Industrial water
  • Lampedusa
  • Reference scale approach
  • Site-specific S-LCA
  • Type I


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