Decisions about the development of new marketed technologies or products invariably come with consequences for economy, society and the environment. Environmental and health risk assessment on the one hand and sustainability assessment on the other hand are tools that offer different but complementary information about such consequences. Conflicts or synergies between the two tools may arise when there are trade-offs between considerations of specific risks and safety versus long-term sustainability. There is a compelling case for a combined assessment of both sustainability and risks, also in support of a successful safe and sustainable-by-design (SSbD) approach, but this is not straightforward. We offer a roadmap showing when the two assessment tools should be applied together and how to combine them in a consistent way, to support more robust decision-making. Four alternative approaches are evaluated against six performance criteria to recommend an approach that makes use of the broader and more generic sustainability assessment as a baseline and includes iterative applications of risk and sustainability assessment elements to increase specificity, reliability and relevance of the assessment results. The recommended approach provides a basis for better-informed decisions about technology choices for policy and societal stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalEnvironmental Sciences Europe
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Risk assessment
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Decision support
  • Technology development
  • Optimization


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