Life cycle GHG and energy balance of organic apples: a case studyin Italy

Risultato della ricerca: Other

Abstract

The main household environmental impacts are concentrated in food, transport and building sectors. Thefood sector is responsible for 20-30% of the various environmental impacts due to the final consumptions,and in the case of eutrophication for even more than 50% (Tukker at al., 2006).Every stage of the production and consumption chain of food, from growing crops, to transportation andstorage, manufacturing, distribution, purchasing and consumption, and treatment of waste, has environmentaleffects. Consumers choices can significantly influence the environmental impacts of production, retail anddistribution phases of food (EEA, 2005). In particular, they can choose to consume more organic food, whichrepresents a key factor in the food productive sector, due to the added value of its products, to the socioeconomicbenefits for the producers and the positive effects on the environment and human health.The present study is part of a research developed within the project “BIOQUALIA – Nutritional and organolepticquality and environmental impact of organic productions”, and aims to evaluate the energy andenvironmental impacts of 1 kg of organic apples cultivated in the north of Italy.The analysis was based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology as regulated by the internationalstandards of series ISO 14040 (UNI EN ISO 14040, 2006a; UNI EN ISO 14044, 2006b).In detail, the authors identified the supply chain flow charts, the relevant mass and energy flows and the keyenvironmental issues for the assessed product, following the approach “from farm to fork”. Particular attentionwas paid on key issues, such as primary energy consumption, water exploitation and fertilisers use inagricultural activities.The application of LCA allowed assessing the incidence of each life cycle step of apples on the total impactsand identifying “hot spots” of the examined supply chain, by the identification of phases and processes thatare responsible of the largest impacts.In detail, the results showed an average primary energy consumption of about 7 MJ/kg and a global warmingpotential of about 0.5 kg CO2eq/kg. A relevant incidence on the total impacts (about 70% of primary energyconsumption and global warming potential) was related to the transport of apples to final users, hypothesisingthat the product is distributed on local (10% of the product), national (49%) and international markets(50%). The use of insecticides and the consumption of diesel for agricultural machines were found to be alsosignificant in the overall energy and environmental impacts of apples. Finally the authors carried out a comparisonbetween the outcomes of the presented study and the eco-profile of non organic apple production.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine0
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2012

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