Sustainability assessment of products with global supply chains - Methodological contributions and applications to electric mobility
Title Granting Institution
Technische Universität Carolo-Wilhelmina
Place of Title Granting Institution
This cumulative dissertation comprises six articles in which concepts and methods to facilitate the sus-tainability assessment of products with global supply chains are developed and applied to analyze specific questions in the context of electric mobility. By investigating the influence of supply chain structures and market settings on the environmental, economic, and social impacts related to products, the articles seek to provide insights for companies, policy-makers, and customers to guide their decision-making towards sustainable supply chains. The first three articles contribute to the theory and methodology of sustainability assessment. In Article 1, a systematic literature review on the current state and recent developments in sustainability assessment with a focus on the use of operations research methods is carried out. Addressing one of the identified challenges, namely the consideration of regional heterogeneity, a concept for the spatially differentiated sustainability assessment in global supply chains is developed in Article 2. The concept is further specified by the development of a novel modeling approach for the computation of environmental, economic, and social sustainability indicators based on activity analysis in Article 3. With its capability to analyze the sustainability implications of alternative supply chain configurations, the approach facilitates the integra-tion of well-founded sustainability assessment methods into a decision-oriented supply chain planning framework. Building on the concepts and methods proposed in the first three articles, the results from selected appli-cations in the context of electric mobility are presented in the subsequent articles. In Article 4, a system dynamics model is used to analyze the market for vehicles with alternative powertrains. The simulation results not only support the selection of appropriate market introduction strategies but also provide the quantitative base for sustainability assessment and supply chain design. Focusing on the key components of electric vehicles, the social hotspots in the supply chain of lithium-ion batteries are examined in Article 5 to complement the existing environmental and economic assessments. Since battery materials and production have considerable environmental and social impacts, new recycling processes to recover the valuable materials from spent batteries are being developed. In Article 6, the economic feasibility of a new industrial-scale recycling process for lithium-ion batteries is investigated from the perspective of a potential investor.