In recent years, fresh-cut produce has increased its importance in the agro-food sector worldwide. Furthermore, ready-to-use products are changing consumer’s habits and this encourages companies to introduce improvements to the user-friendliness of manufacturing processes in agro-food. However, these innovations often focus only on technological aspects and do not take into account the environmental implications regarding, for example, the use of energy and water or the huge output of waste and emissions. This paper aims to evaluate the environmental performance of fresh-cut salad by applying the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology to the overall life cycle “from cradle to grave”. The Water Footprint methodology was also taken into account according to Hoekstra et al. for evaluating water use. The Functional Unit (FU) was set as 200 g pack of fresh-cut iceberg lettuce. Primary data was directly collected from Italian industries but also secondary data from databases (Ecoinvent, Thinkstep) and literature was used. The “Circular Footprint Formula” developed by the Eu-ropean Union for the Product Environmental Footprint was assumed for calculat-ing avoided impacts of the End-of-Life (EoL). As for impact assessment, Global Warming Potential (GWP) was considered for Carbon Footprint calculation (in-cluding biogenic) while after Water Footprint evaluation at the inventory phase, the water use midpoint indicator AWARE (Available WAter REmaining) was used. Results show the highest contribution of the cultivation phase rather than the oth-er ones. This is principally due to the electricity used for irrigation and fertilizer emissions. However, losses and waste generated in the field, in the manufacturing stage and in the use phase also play an important role in increasing the negative impact of the agricultural phase for the production of the FU. The End-of-Life stage contributes to improving the environmental performances. Although, the biogas production was the scenario considered for EoL of salad waste, the process is not efficient enough to guarantee environmental benefits able to balance the negative impacts of the process of anaerobic bio-digestion. At the end, the carried out analysis of carbon footprint and water assessment highlights the importance of reducing waste along the overall life cycle and maintains the dialogue about the convenience in terms of sustainability of the fresh-cut produce. In order to improve the environmental performance of these agro-food products with a high degree of services innovations should be addressed on the one hand to decreasing food waste at the field and industrial stages, and to reducing food loss (e.g. by ex-tending shelf-life) on the other.

Environmental Performance of Fresh-Cut Salad: Water and Carbon Footprinting.

Giulio Cappelletti
;
Giuseppe Nicoletti;Carlo Russo;Spalatro
2020

Abstract

In recent years, fresh-cut produce has increased its importance in the agro-food sector worldwide. Furthermore, ready-to-use products are changing consumer’s habits and this encourages companies to introduce improvements to the user-friendliness of manufacturing processes in agro-food. However, these innovations often focus only on technological aspects and do not take into account the environmental implications regarding, for example, the use of energy and water or the huge output of waste and emissions. This paper aims to evaluate the environmental performance of fresh-cut salad by applying the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology to the overall life cycle “from cradle to grave”. The Water Footprint methodology was also taken into account according to Hoekstra et al. for evaluating water use. The Functional Unit (FU) was set as 200 g pack of fresh-cut iceberg lettuce. Primary data was directly collected from Italian industries but also secondary data from databases (Ecoinvent, Thinkstep) and literature was used. The “Circular Footprint Formula” developed by the Eu-ropean Union for the Product Environmental Footprint was assumed for calculat-ing avoided impacts of the End-of-Life (EoL). As for impact assessment, Global Warming Potential (GWP) was considered for Carbon Footprint calculation (in-cluding biogenic) while after Water Footprint evaluation at the inventory phase, the water use midpoint indicator AWARE (Available WAter REmaining) was used. Results show the highest contribution of the cultivation phase rather than the oth-er ones. This is principally due to the electricity used for irrigation and fertilizer emissions. However, losses and waste generated in the field, in the manufacturing stage and in the use phase also play an important role in increasing the negative impact of the agricultural phase for the production of the FU. The End-of-Life stage contributes to improving the environmental performances. Although, the biogas production was the scenario considered for EoL of salad waste, the process is not efficient enough to guarantee environmental benefits able to balance the negative impacts of the process of anaerobic bio-digestion. At the end, the carried out analysis of carbon footprint and water assessment highlights the importance of reducing waste along the overall life cycle and maintains the dialogue about the convenience in terms of sustainability of the fresh-cut produce. In order to improve the environmental performance of these agro-food products with a high degree of services innovations should be addressed on the one hand to decreasing food waste at the field and industrial stages, and to reducing food loss (e.g. by ex-tending shelf-life) on the other.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11369/386106
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