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Assessing the sustainability of advanced materials using multi criteria decision analysis and the triple bottom line.

Authors
  • Rycroft, Taylor1
  • Wood, Matthew1, 2
  • Zemba, Valerie3
  • Kennedy, Alan1
  • Weiss, Charles Jr4
  • Desmet, David3
  • Ali, Rahim3
  • Linkov, Igor1
  • 1 Environmental Laboratory, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS, USA.
  • 2 Performance Assessment Technologies Division, Aptima Inc, Woburn, MA, USA.
  • 3 Contractor to the Environmental Laboratory, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Concord, MA, USA.
  • 4 Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management
Publisher
Wiley (John Wiley & Sons)
Publication Date
Aug 08, 2019
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1002/ieam.4205
PMID: 31393089
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

While beneficial in many applications, questions remain as to whether advanced materials (AdMs) are more or less sustainable than the conventional materials that they may replace. Currently, there is no available tool to provide clarity to these questions. Traditional approaches for evaluating the sustainability of a chemical or material are usually not standardized and, as a result, the metrics used in sustainability measurements are subjective and often vary from assessor to assessor. Additionally, sustainability characterizations resulting from these approaches are typically presented qualitatively and are often vaguely drawn, making it difficult to confidently and transparently conclude that one material is more sustainable than another. This paper aims to address these gaps by enabling stakeholders involved in the production, use, or governance of AdMs to assess the sustainability of AdMs in a consistent, objective, and quantitative way using a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA)-based model. The model proposed herein adapts a triple-bottom-line (TBL) framework from the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and incorporates criteria weights identified through a stakeholder values assessment conducted by surveying AdM practitioners. Results from the stakeholder values assessment show that the perceived importance of the economic component of the TBL varies the most across stakeholders, and that practitioners providing responses from the perspective of a non-governmental environmental advocacy group or a regulator of AdMs such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were more likely to score and weigh economic indicators lower and environmental indicators higher compared to when responding from a business owner perspective. The resulting MCDA-based model allows stakeholders to assess the sustainability of an AdM or AdM-enabled product and compare it to product alternatives, predict how other stakeholders might score a product by identifying the extent to which components of the TBL are valued by other stakeholders, and identify which subcriteria contribute most to an improvement in a product's sustainability score. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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