Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Life cycle analysis

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the most common method used for quantifying environmental impacts and resource use throughout the entire lifecycle of a product or service. Taking into account all the stages of production, from raw material inputs through to (agricultural) production, manufacture, distribution, transport, use and disposal, LCA aims to make a fair and holistic assessment of one or more products or production methods. Comparisons between different LCA studies, while in theory an invaluable tool for businesses and consumers wishing to reduce their environmental footprint, face various difficulties. For example, two studies examining the environmental impacts of a type of fruit may differ in the variables which they choose to include and the scope of their analysis. In addition, the data on which they rely may be more or less reliable, may differ even when the same input is being considered, or be recorded at different times.

11 September 2015

Unsustainable patterns of consumption and production threaten global development and environmental well-being. Ensuring sustainable consumption and production should take a life cycle approach, and central to this is the development of product sustainability information (PSI).

This publication provides four key recommendations in order to advance a coherent and context-relevant use of PSI that is useful for consumer decision-making:

5 May 2015

Livestock, domestic animals raised for meat, dairy and eggs, is responsible for 14.5 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Because of the scale of its contribution, mitigation of emissions from the livestock sector must be addressed in order to avoid an average global temperature rise of more than 2°C compared to pre-industrial times. 

19 April 2015

Sustainable intensification is receiving growing attention as a way to address the challenge of feeding an increasingly populous and resource-constrained world. But are we asking too much of it? Nearly 20 years after the concept was developed, this briefing revisits the term and asks what sustainable intensification is — a useful guiding framework for raising agricultural productivity on existing arable land in a sustainable manner; and what it is not -a paradigm for achieving food security overall.

26 February 2015

The report Life cycle assessment of tap water: Analysis and comparison with other beverages traces the entire life cycle from water catchment/extraction to serving it up in a glass. The report compares tap water with mineral water and other beverages and shows (unsurprisingly) that from an environmental point of view, tap water is preferable to bottled water and all other beverages. The report was produced by ESU Services – a sustainability consulting firm and commissioned by the Swiss Gas and Water Association (SVGW) in 2014.

29 January 2015

This paper presents two ways of including environmental and nutritional aspects in the sustainability assessment of diets. Three diets were assessed using these two methods: a diet issued from the National Food Agency as a recommended diet reflecting food preferences in Sweden (SNÖ), a diet corresponding to current average food consumption in Sweden according to the latest food intake survey (Riksmaten) and a Low Carbohydrate-High Fat (LCHF) diet, which is a popular life-style diet in Sweden currently.

29 January 2015

In December 2014 the Food and Feed LCA database from PE INTERNATIONAL was released.  It includes over 350 cradle-to-gate and gate-to-gate LCI datasets representing the most commonly used food and feed products in different geographical regions:

22 May 2014

Recognizing the limitations of dietary guidelines in including sustainability issues this paper tests six different diets for their nutritional and sustainability performance.

25 April 2014

Diets with a greater dairy and meat proportion lead to more emissions, as compared to those with more vegetables and fruits.

13 November 2013

The Swiss Federal Research Station Agroscope and the consulting firm Quantis, have launched the World Food LCA Database (WFLDB).  Launched in 2012, it aims to provide reliable and up-to-date data for more accurate food and beverage life cycle assessments (LCA), decisions and communication. The overarching goal is to bring together experts from all stages in the food chain to develop a comprehensive and up-to-date inventory database for accurate life cycle assessments (LCA).

5 September 2013

Achieving food system sustainability is a global priority but there are different views on how it might be achieved. Broadly three perspectives are emerging, defined here as: efficiency oriented, demand restraint and food system transformation. These reflect different conceptualisations on what is practically achievable, and what is desirable, underpinned by different values and ideologies about the role of technology, our relationship with nature and fundamentally what is meant by a ‘good life.’ 

25 March 2013

FCRN network member Hannah Tuomisto has co-authored a life cycle analysis of (hypothetical) in-vitro meat production here: Tuomisto H L, Teixeira de Mattos M J (2011) Environmental Impacts of Cultured Meat Production. Environ. Sci. Technol. 

18 March 2013

For those interested in or working on life cycle analysis type approaches you may be interested in a free carbon footprinting tool Ccalc. The tool can be used for the following:

18 December 2012

A lifecycle assessment study, carried out by PE International, measured the greenhouse gas emissions emitted from the production of a number of dairy products in Australia to identify the industry’s overall carbon footprint.  An industry cross section of primary data has been analysed from 140 farms across Australia.

19 June 2012

This is a useful and readable opinion piece highlighting some fundamental errors in thinking about biofuels.

31 May 2012

This paper, co written by FCRN mailing list member Kurt Schmidinger argues that the ‘missed potential carbon sink’ - - the carbon sequestering opportunity cost of using land for livestock (and presumably for other agricultural commodities as well as for other activities) needs to be taken into account in calculating the CO2eq emissions arising from any activity.