S-LCA, a case study

The purpose of S-LCA is to benchmark production processes and production chains in terms of the antisocial working conditions. At this webpage we will explain S-LCA by six cases of garment production chains: the s-eco-costs are calculated of cotton T-shirts and pairs of jeans for three production chains (1) USA-Europe (Western ‘W’), (2) India-Bangladesh (Asian ‘A’), (3) China/India-Bangladesh (Asian Best Practice ‘ABP’). These calculations reveal the hotspots in each chain, and enabling benchmarking.

The framework of S-LCA has been defined by UNEP/SETAC (2009, 2011). From this framework we selected five types of s-eco-costs:

  • Minimum Acceptable Wage (based on minimum wages in rich countries and statistics on
    economic migrants)
  • Child Labor (forced labor, not able to attend school)
  • Extreme Poverty (derived from World Bank absolute poverty line)
  • Excessive Working Hours (forced labor, involuntary)
  • Occupational Safety and Health (based on statistics of ILO)

The s-eco-costs for antisocial working conditions can be found at webpage s-eco-costs on the basis of  the specific hours in specific working conditions and specific salaries. In this S_LCA case it will be shown how such a calculation works in specific supply chains. The cases are based on average working conditions in the countries.
Table 5.12a provides the s-eco-costs per hour for some key producing countries of textile products (e.g. China, Bangladesh and Vietnam). Note that the s-eco-costs for the Bangladesh industry in general are much higher than the s-eco-cost for the Bangladesh garment industry, due to a higher legal minimum wage for garment workers in that country.

The specific LCI data for Child Labor and Extreme Working Hours must be acquired on the level of a specific production chain, since ILO data on child labor and extreme working hours are not
yet available for the garment industry as such. In our study we did not encounter these subcategories in the supply chains, since we looked at garments of western brand-names that are quite keen on eradication child labor for their products for image reasons.


Figure 5.12b depicts the 3 different supply chains of the system under study, each with 2 reference flows (1 T-shirt and 1 pair of jeans). A detailed description of the system can be found in (Van der Velden et al. 2017).

The results (hotspots) are shown in Table 5.12c and 5.12d. Table 5.12e gives eco-costs as well: it is clear that each chain has its own ratio s-eco-costs/eco-costs. Detailed tables are given in (Van der Velden et al. 2017, supplementary materials).