ORL-32806 Sustainability Analysis

Profile of the course

Sustainability is a growing concern in the design and operation of many production and supply chain activities. Next to the traditional economic concerns, companies therefore also increasingly consider the environmental and social impacts of their activities. To support these initiatives, and to improve the related decision-making processes, a solid foundation of quantitative methods for sustainability analysis is required.

In this course, you learn how to systematically and quantitatively evaluate sustainability, and to optimise and redesign sustainable supply chains. Definitions and concepts of sustainability are explained and discussed. You will learn how to quantify the sustainability of products and production chains, both for existing supply chains as well as for novel, re-designed, or circular supply chains. Such sustainability assessment involves the selection of key sustainability performance indicators, the collection of data (partially from databases), the quantification of sustainability performance indicators, the benchmarking of supply chains using methods like data envelopment analysis, and the comparison and discussion of the results leading to re-design strategies. In this final comparison and discussion special attention will be given to multi-objective evaluation using (quantitative) operations management methods and stakeholder inclusion.

The course is intended for all third year BSc and MSc students from Wageningen with an interest in sustainability and an affinity with (decision-sciences-based) quantitative analysis. The quantitative approach to sustainability analysis is a key characteristic of the course and students with a background in operations research/decision science and/or process engineering are more likely to successfully complete this course.

Commonly, students are enrolled in the minors Biobased Technology (WUBBT) and Biobased Transition (WUBTR), or in the Master Programmes Management Economics and Consumer Sciences (track ORL), Biosystems Engineering, or Biotechnology.

Assumed prerequisite knowledge
Preferably students have taken the course decision science 1 or similar and have general knowledge on the biobased economy

At the start of the course students take a selftest (duration, 30 minutes). Advice is given on which topics to study in more depth in preparation modules available on Blackboard. This preparation is done to ensure that all students have a common understanding of basic concepts related to sustainability and are able to perform basic calculations.

Learning outcomes

fter successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  • explain definitions related to sustainability;
  • collect data from databases for sustainability analysis
  • identify and quantify key sustainability performance indicators and interpret the results from sustainability assessments
  • perform a multi-objective sustainability evaluation
  • analyse and optimise re-design strategies using quantitative operations management methods;
  • report a sustainability analysis

Educational activities

Scheduled in period 3


  • Lectures and tutorials
  • Computer practical SimaPro
  • Selfstudy to read literature and make exercises
  • Case study group work

The knowledge and skills are applied to a case study. The groups for the case study will be announced at the start of the course. Active participation in the computer practicals to learn SimaPro is required to be able to start the case study. The case study (including presentation session) is also mandatory, students can miss at most 1 day.

Assessment strategy

  • report and participation assessment of the case study
  • written exam – closed book