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Assessment of the life cycle 
greenhouse gas emissions in the food industry


University of Tuscia, Dipartimento per l’Innovazione dei sistemi Biologici, Agroalimentari e Forestali (DIBAF), Via S. Camillo de Lellis, 01100 Viterbo, Italy


Aim of this work was to point out the main direct environmental impacts (i.e., waste generation, water use, and energy use) of the food industry, as well as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the agro-food system in industrialised countries. Based on GHG inventories and technical literature, agricultural production appears to be the hotspot in the life cycle of food products. Several life cycle assessment procedures, such as the Carbon Footprint (CF), Bilan Carbone®, Environmental Product Declaration®, are currently available and can help to identify more sustainable options. The available CF data were used to show how the so called Mediterranean-type diet might promote sustainable lifestyles in the developed countries with a more favourable impact on the environment and health. A progressive approach to food sustainability was also outlined.

# Partly presented at the 2013 EFFoST Annual Meeting: Bio-Based Technologies in the context of European food innovation system; November, 12-15, Bologna, Italy.


The current food system presumes unconstrained availability of low-price fossil fuels and is ecologically unsustainable (1). Contrary to Kyoto Protocol’s main suggestions about the reduction of the current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Earth atmosphere and mitigation of climate change, the food supply chain has been so extended to make its associated GHG emissions contribute significantly to the Earth global warming. The fossil-origin fuels constitute a low-cost energy source, as well as the raw materials for producing fertilizers and pesticides, etc., and are involved in all the steps of crop production and animal husbandry, transformation, packaging, and distribution of food products. They are, moreover, essential in the construction and maintenance of machinery, processing equipment and storage tanks, as well as transportation vehicles (trucks, trains, ships, and planes), infrastructures and related operations. Paradoxically, it is the food industry itself to be more exposed to the risks of climate change. This is expected to alter traditional weather patterns, to cause different forms of land degradation (i.e., l ...

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