Identifying environmental impacts linked to the production of plant-based spreads in Peru using life cycle assessment

Claudia Cucchi, Ian Vázquez-Rowe, Alejandra Rizo Patrón, Mario Echeverría-Su, Ramzy Kahhat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Plant-based spread products, such as margarine, are made up of a combination of diverse ingredients, many times arriving from different parts of the world. This makes their environmental impact challenging to compute. In Latin America, despite efforts in recent years to enlarge the number of food items that have been analyzed from an environmental perspective, many processed products remain unexplored. In this context, the main objective of the current study was to determine the environmental impacts of a set of five plant-based spread products in Peru using life cycle assessment. For this, primary data were collected from the main margarine producer up to the gate of the agroindustrial plant ready for distribution. Methodological choices, such as allocation, the computation of land use changes (LUCs) or agricultural management variability, were an important subset of variables to be considered in the life cycle modeling and accounted for through scenario and sensitivity analyses. Results demonstrated that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to margarine production in Peru range from 1.66 to 6.00 kg CO2eq per kilogram of product, in a similar range to other studies in the literature. LUCs accounted for the highest contribution to GHG emissions, whereas crude oil extraction, as well as on field fertilizer emissions were the other main contributors. In other impact categories, plant protection agents were relevant in toxicity indicators, fertilization in eutrophication and transport in air quality-related categories. These results constitute a benchmark for the production of plant-based products in Latin America and are useful for attaining cleaner production, as well as for the optimization of ingredients and packaging design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-399
Number of pages16
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Volume47
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2024

Keywords

  • Cleaner production
  • Climate change
  • Food spreads
  • Industrial ecology
  • Margarine
  • Palm oil
  • Soybean oil

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