Quantifying the social benefits of the fair-trade designation of coffee using Social Hotspot Database
Life cycle analysis (lca)
Published under CEST2021
Proceedings ISBN: 978-618-86292-1-9
Proceedings ISSN: 2944-9820
Quantifying sustainability is a difficult but necessary task to improve our environmental, economic, and social surroundings. This paper describes an investigation into the use of the Social Hotspot Database (SHDB) to determine the true value of fair-trade certification. The analysis has been carried out on two coffee systems produced in Colombia and consumed in Spain: i) a low-cost generic (GC) and ii) a high-quality organic fair trade certified (FTC). Risk levels in the SHDB for the cultivation sector in Colombia were adjusted to reflect compliance with fair-trade criteria. Surprisingly, the results showed that the social risks per functional unit (FU) (1 kg) of the FTC were significantly higher than FTC. This incongruence is caused by the fact that the lower risk values associated with the fair-trade designation are largely offset by its significantly higher economic cost. This is so even though these costs are dedicated to mitigating the risks that are then penalized by the same expenditure (e.g., low salaries, poverty). A solution to this artifact may be to conceive the fair-trade coffee as a multifunctional system and apply an economic allocation approach to evaluate separately its functions as beverage and as a contributor to social wellbeing.
PSIA, Social LCA, SHDB, Colombia, coffee