Industry 4.0-based dynamic Social Organizational Life Cycle Assessment to target the social circular economy in manufacturing
Nowadays in manufacturing, the topic of sustainability plays a key role. However, over the years, economic crises and the climate change debate have focused the attention of scholars, industrialists and policy makers mainly on environmental sustainability, putting social sustainability on the back burner. This is also evident in the scientific literature which highlights several knowledge gaps. The digital transition of factories and Industry 4.0 technologies have not yet been fully exploited to correlate production and social metrics. As a result, there is a lack of adequate tools for monitoring social performance in the factory environment. In this context, the social dimension of the circular economy is still an under-researched topic. This study aims to fill these gaps by integrating Social Organizational Life Cycle Assessment (SO-LCA) and Industry 4.0 technologies in a blended methodological approach designed to dynamically monitor the social performance of a major manufacturing industry. Using primary data, a set of site-specific social indicators and indexes were created to assess the organization's social impact against key stakeholder categories and subcategories. Finally, within that set, those social metrics that the organization considers essential to moving toward the circular economy were identified. Therefore, this study, has contributed to fill the literature gaps by demonstrating that the digitization of production processes, not only enables the assessment of environmental impact, but can also play a key role in knowing the social performance of a manufacturing organization and to identify the hidden social dimension in the circular economy.
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