One popular methodology for assessing the environmental impact of livestock sector is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), that quantifies the environmental impact of a product. Ecological Footprint (EF) performs an environmental sustainability assessment, by comparing the demand for natural capital by an economic activity with the offer of such capital within a certain territory. The aim of the study was the comparison between LCA and EF in assessing the environmental performances of milk production, assuming as case study three cattle farms with increasing levels of production intensity. Different metrics and functional units (FU) (i.e., fat and protein corrected milk, FPCM and hectare) were adopted for LCA analysis, considering some of the major impact categories. For greenhouse gases emissions, the Global Warming Potential (GWP) and the Global Temperature Potential (GTP) were considered. Both metrics were calculated assuming or not the distinction between biogenic and fossil methane. Adopting GWP as a metric, the results per kg of FPCM provided by the LCA highlighted a different trade off compared to the EF method: the farm with the highest productive intensity produced the least impactful milk in terms of GWP but had the most negative Ecological Balance (EB). The same occurred for the other impact categories. When GTP was adopted, or the hectare was considered as FU, the least intensive farm, characterized by greater feed self-sufficiency, became the one that produced the least impactful milk and had the least negative EB. The study highlighted the scientific significance of the integration between the two approaches for creating a comprehensive representation of the effects of human activities on the environment. The LCA method evaluates impacts intensity referred to a specific functional unit and its results are strongly influenced by productive efficiency; the EF method evaluates environmental sustainability of productions in relation to the territory that supports them.

Comparison of the use of life cycle assessment and ecological footprint methods for evaluating environmental performances in dairy production / E. Biagetti, G. Gislon, A. Martella, M. Zucali, L. Bava, S. Franco, A. Sandrucci. - In: SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT. - ISSN 0048-9697. - 905:(2023 Dec 20), pp. 166485.1-166485.12. [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.166845]

Comparison of the use of life cycle assessment and ecological footprint methods for evaluating environmental performances in dairy production

G. Gislon
Secondo
;
M. Zucali;L. Bava;S. Franco
Penultimo
;
A. Sandrucci
Ultimo
2023

Abstract

One popular methodology for assessing the environmental impact of livestock sector is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), that quantifies the environmental impact of a product. Ecological Footprint (EF) performs an environmental sustainability assessment, by comparing the demand for natural capital by an economic activity with the offer of such capital within a certain territory. The aim of the study was the comparison between LCA and EF in assessing the environmental performances of milk production, assuming as case study three cattle farms with increasing levels of production intensity. Different metrics and functional units (FU) (i.e., fat and protein corrected milk, FPCM and hectare) were adopted for LCA analysis, considering some of the major impact categories. For greenhouse gases emissions, the Global Warming Potential (GWP) and the Global Temperature Potential (GTP) were considered. Both metrics were calculated assuming or not the distinction between biogenic and fossil methane. Adopting GWP as a metric, the results per kg of FPCM provided by the LCA highlighted a different trade off compared to the EF method: the farm with the highest productive intensity produced the least impactful milk in terms of GWP but had the most negative Ecological Balance (EB). The same occurred for the other impact categories. When GTP was adopted, or the hectare was considered as FU, the least intensive farm, characterized by greater feed self-sufficiency, became the one that produced the least impactful milk and had the least negative EB. The study highlighted the scientific significance of the integration between the two approaches for creating a comprehensive representation of the effects of human activities on the environment. The LCA method evaluates impacts intensity referred to a specific functional unit and its results are strongly influenced by productive efficiency; the EF method evaluates environmental sustainability of productions in relation to the territory that supports them.
Ecological footprint; Environmental sustainability; Global warming metrics; Life cycle assessment; Milk production;
Settore AGR/19 - Zootecnica Speciale
20-dic-2023
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/1031131
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