ST.6 Update the sustainability hotspots



This activity involves taking the analysis of the sustainability impacts and hotspots identified for the market and updating it with the company-specific impacts you have identified


List of specific environmental, social and economic impacts that occur across the
value chain from the activity PR.4 Identify sustainability hotspots across the value chain.


An updated, company-specific list of sustainability impacts with hotspots identified used for the activity ST.7 Do a SWOT analysis.



N.B. These instructions assume that the activity will be completed as part of the optional workshop with staff during the Preliminary Assessment. It can also be completed as an individual activity following a similar process.


Prior to the workshop you need to prepare a copy of the Life Cycle Thinking template on a large sheet of paper (a standard A1 size flipchart sheet is best as it provides sufficient space for a small group to work with). You will also need a large space to draw on, preferably a large whiteboard.


Introduce the exercise to the participants by explaining that a key aspect of eco-innovation involves considering the sustainability impacts of a product across its lifecycle. Explain that this exercise is intended to capture the main sustainability issues that occur across the product lifecycle.

Create the life cycle inventory

Ask the participants to help you draw a Life Cycle Inventory template, starting with the main manufacturing process steps that occur within the company’s factory. For each process step make sure that you indicate what the inputs (materials, water and energy), product outputs (useful products and ‘wastes’), and emissions (to air, soil and water) are.


Once you have completed the Life Cycle Inventory template for the activities that take place within the factory, try to extend the template forwards and backwards across the value chain by asking questions such as:

  •  What happens to the products once they leave the factory?
  •  Where does the customer buy the product from?
  •  How does the product get from the factory to the customer?
  •  What happens during the use of the product?
  •  What happens to the product once the customer has finished using it?
  •  Where do the raw materials come from?
  •  What processes do the raw materials go through before arriving at your factory?


Use the Life Cycle Inventory template you have created to begin populating the first four columns of the Life Cycle Thinking template.

Identify the life cycle impacts and sustainability hotspots


Ask the participants to provide examples of specific environmental, social and economic impacts that are associated with the activities and emissions at each stage of the product life cycle.


Get the participants to make a note of the issues they suggest on a sticky note and place them in the relevant cell of the Life Cycle Thinking template.


Ask participants to rate each of the sustainability impacts using the scale ‘Low’, ‘Medium’ and ‘High’ impact. Tell the participants that any impact that must be controlled to comply with legislation or the conditions of a permit should automatically be given a ‘High’ rating. This is indicated in the example below by the letter in brackets, where: H= High, M= Medium, L=Low. A‘+’ sign indicates a positive sustainability impact

8. Ask the participants to decide where the sustainability hotspots are by:

  • Identifying cells of the Life Cycle Thinking matrix that contain several different medium or high-rated impacts.
  • Identifying activities or processes that lead to several different medium or high-rated impacts.
  • Encourage the participants to identify at least two sustainability hotspots that occur outside of the company, elsewhere in the value chain.


After the workshop combine the sustainability hotspots identified from the Life Cycle Thinking workshop with the hotspots identified for the value chain during the PREPARE phase.


Once you have identified the sustainability hotspots it can be worth revisiting the output of the Life Cycle Stakeholders template as this may provide some ideas for who might help the company to address the identified hotspots.

Tips & Tricks


If you are struggling to identify relevant issues, consider the following prompts:

  •  Where and when are the most significant costs incurred across the life cycle of the product?
  •  What are the most significant resources (energy, materials and water) consumed throughout the product life cycle?
  •  Where are resources being wasted or underutilized?
  •  Where are there toxic chemicals used and how are they prevented from impacting the environment or human health?
  •  How does the product value chain impact on local stakeholders?
  •  Are there some positive impacts as well as the negative?
  • Which stakeholders benefit from the product, and which are negatively impacted? – see the results of the Life Cycle Stakeholders template to help you with this.


Where an issue sits across multiple cells, create copies of the note and place one in each of the relevant cells.


Remember that impacts can be positive as well as negative. For example, “Jobs secured at factory” is a positive social impact that could be captured in the Production phase.


If you do not have a whiteboard available several A1 flipchart sheets stuck next to each other onto
a wall can also work.


Try to make the impacts you capture as specific and detailed as possible.

— Success story from Peru

The Grains of Success at Peru’s IMSA

The production of coffee and cocoa features strongly in Latin… >> read more.