Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment

May 2022

The global society faces an existential threat if it fails to meet current and future material needs of its citizens, while staying within the carrying capacity of our planet. In their 2018 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that limiting global warming below or close to 1.50C would require deep emission reduction to reach net zero by 2050. The dire warning of the recent IPCC report in 2022 has further stated the urgency of the matter and call for immediate action (IPCC, 2022). In the meantime, the world’s population increase in concert with an ever-increasing average affluence leads to accelerated rates in the consumption of resources and the production of wastes and associated environmental impact (Ghadimi et al., 2019). Researchers in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services assess that the rates by which natural species become extinct qualify our current state as the sixth period of mass extinction in the history of our planet (Barnosky et al., 2011). Realizing the goal of environmental sustainability is an urgent quest of our global society. For sustainability, the total environmental impact of our activities must respect the planetary boundaries that define what a safe operating space for our civilization is. Engineering must change the current focus on eco-efficiency to a search for solutions that are effective in terms of operating within the share of the total pollution space that they can claim (Hauschild et al., 2020; Sutherland et al., 2020).

To achieve this, products and services need to be engineered with a life cycle view, hence life cycle engineering (LCE). In this context, LCE can be defined as “sustainability-oriented product development and manufacturing activities within the scope of one to several product life cycles, aiming to achieve sustainable manufacturing that enables fulfilling needs of both present and future generations without exceeding the bio-physical limits and the boundaries of Earth’s life support systems”. Life cycle engineering of new products and technologies must consider not just the single product and product life cycle, but also the foreseeable growth in market volume that results from increases in population and affluence, in order to allow the associated total environmental impact to be taken into account during the product development (Hauschild et al., 2020). The emphasis should not only be on eco-efficiency but also in eco-effectiveness (Hauschild et al., 2020). In the context, eco-effectiveness provides the target (e.g., 2050 targets), while eco-efficiency provides a progressive pathway to get there.

The main aim of this special issue is to create a platform for researchers around the world in the area of Life Cycle Engineering and Sustainable Manufacturing for achieving net-zero targets and environmental sustainability. The special issue welcomes paper submissions on, but not limited to, the following topics:

• Development of new tools and techniques for life cycle engineering of products and services to enable absolute sustainability;
• Determination of the environmental space and its sharing between different life cycle engineering activities;
• Development of new tools and approaches to support system innovation for shifting efficiency-focused engineering to meet the absolute sustainability targets;
• Metering and monitoring techniques, and supporting supply chain activities, for improving the energy, water and resource efficiency of manufacturing systems;
• Methodologies for life-cycle economic and environmental evaluation of future product technologies;
• Quantitative sustainability assessment methodologies and carbon and water footprint assessments by using Life Cycle Assessment, Life Cycle Costing, and Material Flow Cost Accounting;
• Case studies and application of life cycle analysis tools for Sustainable Manufacturing within specific industrial sectors.
• Integrated modeling approaches such as multi-criteria decision analysis for promoting Sustainable Manufacturing;
• Life cycle design strategies for green products; green product evaluation standards and policy;
• Circular economy strategies with a system perspective from product to industrial level;
• Interactions between technology, consumption, and policy to help identify more sustainable solutions for both production and consumption systems.

Guest editors:

1Wei-Qiang Chen,
2Michael Zwicky Hauschild,
3*Bei-jia Huang,
4Sami Kara,
5John W. Sutherland,
6Yasushi Umeda,

1Key Lab of Urban Environment and Health, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
2Department of Environmental and Resource Engineering, Technical University of Denmark.
3Department of Environment and Architecture, University of Shanghai for Science and Technology.
4Sustainable Manufacturing and Life Cycle Engineering Research Group, School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, The University of New South Wales.5School of Environmental and Ecological Engineering, Purdue University.
6Sustainability Design Lab, RACE, School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo.

*Managing Guest Editor

Manuscript submission information:

A Virtual Special Issue (VSI) is an online-only grouping of Special Issue articles traditionally assigned to a single Special Issue. The articles in a VSI will be assigned a unique identifier and published in a regular journal issue. The unique identifier allows to simultaneously adding the article to a VSI in Articles grouped together in a VSI retain their original citation details. A VSI speeds up the publication of individual articles as, unlike the publication process for conventional Special Issue articles, a VSI does not need to wait for the final article to be ready before publication.

A detailed submission guideline is available as “Guide for Authors” at: All manuscripts and any supplementary material should be submitted through the online editorial system ( The authors must select “VSI: Life Cycle Engineering” in the submission process.

Important Dates

Full paper submission deadline: October 31, 2022
Final decision notification: February 28, 2023
Publication: As soon as accepted (VSI)


1. IPCC, 2022: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, M. Tignor, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem, B. Rama (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press.
2. Barnosky AD, Matzke N, Tomiya S, Wogan GOU, Swartz B, Quental TB, Marshall C, McGuire JL, Lindsey EL, Maguire KC, Mersey B, Ferrer EA. Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived? Nature.2011.471:51–57
3. Hauschild MZ, Kara S, Røpke I. Absolute sustainability: Challenges to life cycle engineering. CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology. 2020.69 (2):533-553
4. Sutherland JW, Skerlos SJ, Haapala KR, Cooper D, Zhao F, Huang AH. Industrial Sustainability: Reviewing the Past and Envisioning the Future. Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering. 2020.142(11):1-33
5. Ghadimi P, Wang C, Azadnia AH, Lim MK, and Sutherland JW, Life Cycle-based Environmental Performance Indicator for the Coal-to-energy Supply Chain: A Chinese Case Application. Resources, Conservation & Recycling. 2019. 147, 28-38.


Life Cycle Engineering; Sustainable Manufacturing; Net-Zero; Environmental Space; Sustainability Assessment; Integrated Modeling; Circular Economy Strategies

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