This report provides guidance on how to apply LCA and LCC for studies that specifically explore questions on handling side flows from the food supply chain. It is aimed at practitioners who have working knowledge of applying LCA and LCC in their field of expertise (e.g. food processing or waste handling) and policy makers that would like to get a deeper understanding on how to interpret and formulate an LCA and LCC based problem.
The food supply chain (FSC) produces food side flows, which are material flows of inedible and edible parts from the main product being produced. These flows have the common attribute "the less the better". New valorisation routes for side flows will have monetary and environmental impacts. The report provides recommendations on how to apply Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and how to combine them in the context of food waste. General guidance on LCA and LCC exist, which this report builds upon, but not specifically for addressing methodological issues when applied to food side flows. A consistent approach is required to allow for more informed decision making. The focus of the recommendations given is primarily on change-oriented studies on interventions for side flows, since footprint studies are already covered in existing frameworks such as the ILCD-handbook and the PEF framework under development.
The REFRESH situations
This report introduces the "REFRESH situations" (RS), which are a set of scenarios that decisionmakers or practitioners can apply to analyse the effectiveness of potential interventions in a more consistent manner. The four REFRESH situations (RS) defined are: Prevention of side flow (RS 1), side flow valorisation (RS 2), valorisation as part of waste management (RS 3) and end of life treatment (RS 4). The REFRESH situations can take place at any point/process in the life cycle and they can take place within the remit of any stakeholder (including consumers) and they are independent from the perspective, i.e. the producer of side streams or receiver.
Recommendations on how to effectively implement LCA or LCC for food waste interventions
In addition to following the ISO standard on LCA, it is further recommended to go through the following steps, being detailed in the report, when performing an LCA, an LCC, or a combined LCA and LCC study, focusing on side flows from the food supply chains (FSC):
- Phrase the question of your study; what is the purpose of the study?
- Establish if the flow being investigated in the study is a side flow (if not, then it is outside the scope of this report), and which REFRESH situation is applicable, by using the decision tree provided. For several situations (scenarios) run through the decision tree for each situation.
- Establish whether your study is a footprint or intervention study, by using the provided decision tree.
- If cost is assessed, use provided decision tree to establish if E-LCC is suitable for the study, if not it is out of scope of this guide.
- Utilise the provided summary table for recommendations on methodological choices in the LCA/E-LCC study.
Davis, J., De Menna, F., Unger, N., Östergren, K, Loubiere, M., Vittuari, M., 2017: Generic strategy LCA and LCC - Guidance for LCA and LCC focused on prevention, valorisation and treatment of side flows from the food supply chain. REFRESH Deliverable 5.3