PRODUCT CARBON FOOTPRINT: STILL A PROPER METHOD TO START IMPROVING THE SUSTAINABILITY OF FOOD AND BEVERAGE ENTERPRISES
AbstractGiven the complexity of food production, supply chains and distribution, this paper sustains that the mere assessment of the product carbon footprint might still be regarded as a first trial in the field of improving the sustainability of the food and drink industry.
After having reviewed the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the agro-food system in industrialized countries, and summarized the main direct environmental impacts of the food industry, the pros and cons of the Life Cycle assessment (LCA) methodology were briefly examined together with the current standard methods used to assess the environmental impact of food and drink products. Once a cradle-to-grave product carbon footprint modelling had been developed, some mitigating actions might be tested with the final goal of reducing the GHG emissions associated with the most impacting product life cycle stages. As an example, such a procedure was applied to approximately halve the cradle-to-grave carbon footprint of two cereal-based products (i.e., dry pasta and malt beer). A cost/benefit analysis is required to relate the marginal increase in the product processing costs to each reduction in the product environmental load.
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