"New pathways, strategies, business and communication models for bioplastics as a building block of a sustainable economy"

SP 6: Socio-economy

SP 6 examines socio-economic aspects of bioplastic production based on mass and energy models. The methods of life cycle costing (LCC) and the Life Cycle Working Environment (LCWE) are applied. The LCC accounts for the entire cost of a product and thus provides information about cost drivers in the supply chain. Workplace-related aspects of production can be shown with the LCWE. Among other things, the results conduce to an analysis of working conditions within the labor market and industry changes. The interpretation of the results of both methods is used as a basis for recommendations to different stakeholders.

Following project partners are involved in SP 6.

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics - Life Cycle Engineering (lead)
  • IfBB - Institute for bioplastics and biocomposites, Hochschule Hannover
  • iWF - Institute for Machine Tools and Production Engineering, Technical University of Braunschweig

Economic and social aspects of the production of bioplastics are systematically evaluated and analyzed from the production of the raw materials to the final plastic within the scope of the subproject Socio-Economic under the direction of the Fraunhofer IBP and cooperation of the IfBB.

It is built on the mass and energy models that were developed in the subproject Ecology. This ensures that the obtained results are consistent with the environmental analysis and ecological, economic and social effects of the production process of bioplastics can be related to each other. Thus, a holistic view and assessment of all aspects of sustainability of a product is allowed.

At the beginning of the subproject economic models are created. This is based on the methodology of Life Cycle Costing (LCC). Under this calculation, the total cost of a product can be detected. For this purpose all costs can be structured determined and evaluated over the expected life of a product. On the one hand, this allows an economic comparison of different production alternatives; on the other hand, it identifies cost drivers across the value chain. These are important information for decision-makers to develop product and corporate strategies, for example with the aim of reducing energy costs in production. Moreover, the obtained results form the basis for investment decisions, since they reflect the total cost of the investment. For example, a company can consider whether an expansion of the product portfolio into bio-based products is economically reasonable.

Subsequent to the economic analysis, social aspects of the bioplastic production are evaluated. For this, the Life Cycle Working Environment (LCWE) method is applied. It allows the quantification and evaluation of work-related aspects of production processes. Thereby, statements can be made about how far production alternatives have different effects on the workers directly, but also on the labor market in the sector. For example, it can be analyzed whether jobs in rural areas are created caused by a conversion of a production chain to bio-based raw materials and whether the qualifications of jobs changed.

The results of economic and social analysis are then combined and used as a basis for further analysis as well as to deduce recommendations for actions for different stakeholders, such as representatives from business and politics. This is primarily aimed at the competitiveness of bio-based plastics, influences on the regional added value by the demand for bio-based raw materials and the development of the labor market with respect to quality level and regionality.