Ensuring access to food for the most vulnerable is one of the objectives of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Rethinking food production and distribution systems in light of this need makes it imperative to limit the environmental burden of food supply chains to meet the increasing demand of a rapidly growing world population. One of the most important problems of food supply chains is food waste, which leads to a huge waste of resources for the production of foodstuffs that end up not fulfilling the function for which they were produced. A powerful strategy to address this problem is the recovery and redistribution of food that is still edible to socially and economically disadvantaged people. In this article Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is applied to the study of environmental burdens and benefits of food redistribution following attributional and consequential LCA approaches. Data on surplus food recovered is collected from local charities and the impact of their activities is compared with that of the treatment of food waste by incineration, anaerobic digestion and composting. All midpoint impact categories of ReCiPe (hierarchist) are considered in life cycle impact assessment of 1 kg of food wasted or donated. The study highlights the great variability of recovered food locally, with respect to quantity and type. The life cycle of surplus animal-based food has the greatest impact (e.g. up to 70% kg CO2 eq/kg in waste treatment scenario). Food donation reduces the average impact of the studied systems (e.g. 1.9 kg CO2 eq/kg net environmental benefit). However, efficient mechanisms of recovery and redistribution are required, in terms of sizing, consumptions and logistics, to ensure a significant environmental improvement over food waste treatment.

Quantifying environmental implications of surplus food redistribution to reduce food waste

Damiani M.;Pastorello T.;Carlesso A.;Semenzin E.
2021-01-01

Abstract

Ensuring access to food for the most vulnerable is one of the objectives of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Rethinking food production and distribution systems in light of this need makes it imperative to limit the environmental burden of food supply chains to meet the increasing demand of a rapidly growing world population. One of the most important problems of food supply chains is food waste, which leads to a huge waste of resources for the production of foodstuffs that end up not fulfilling the function for which they were produced. A powerful strategy to address this problem is the recovery and redistribution of food that is still edible to socially and economically disadvantaged people. In this article Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is applied to the study of environmental burdens and benefits of food redistribution following attributional and consequential LCA approaches. Data on surplus food recovered is collected from local charities and the impact of their activities is compared with that of the treatment of food waste by incineration, anaerobic digestion and composting. All midpoint impact categories of ReCiPe (hierarchist) are considered in life cycle impact assessment of 1 kg of food wasted or donated. The study highlights the great variability of recovered food locally, with respect to quantity and type. The life cycle of surplus animal-based food has the greatest impact (e.g. up to 70% kg CO2 eq/kg in waste treatment scenario). Food donation reduces the average impact of the studied systems (e.g. 1.9 kg CO2 eq/kg net environmental benefit). However, efficient mechanisms of recovery and redistribution are required, in terms of sizing, consumptions and logistics, to ensure a significant environmental improvement over food waste treatment.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3741938
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