Quantifying the handprint-Footprint balance into a single score: The example of pharmaceuticals

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From: PLoS ONE(Vol. 15, Issue 2)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Document Type: Article
Length: 10,959 words
Lexile Measure: 1370L

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Abstract :

Life Cycle Assessment typically focuses on the footprint of products and services, expressed on three Areas of Protection (AoP): Human Health, Ecosystems and Resources. While the handprint is often expressed qualitatively, quantified handprints have recently been compared directly to the footprint concerning one AoP: Human Health. We propose to take this one step further by simultaneously comparing the quantified handprint and footprint on all AoPs through normalization and weighting of the results towards a single score. We discuss two example cases of a pharmaceutical treatment: mebendazole to treat soil-transmitted helminthiases and paliperidone palmitate to treat schizophrenia. Each time, treatment is compared to 'no treatment'. The footprint of health care is compared to the handprint of improved patient health. The handprint and footprint were normalized separately. To include sensitivity in the normalization step we applied four sets of external normalization factors for both handprint (Global Burden of Disease) and footprint (ReCiPe and PROSUITE). At the weighting step we applied 26 sets of panel weighting factors from three sources. We propose the Relative Sustainability Benefit Rate (RSBR) as a new metric to quantify the relative difference in combined handprint and footprint single score between two alternatives. When only considering the footprint, the first case study is associated with an increased single score burden of treatment compared to 'no treatment', while in the second case study treatment reduces the single score burden by 41.1% compared to 'no treatment'. Also including the handprint provided new insights for the first case study, now showing a decrease of 56.4% in single score burden for treatment compared to 'no treatment'. For the second case study the reduction of single score burden was confirmed as the handprint burden was also decreased because of treatment by 9.9%, reinforcing the findings.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A614124849