This report presents the results from the life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) of two food waste prevention and upgrading case studies. The first focused on the heat treatment of manufacturing, retail, and catering food surplus so that it could be used as pig feed in UK and France. The second focused on the prevention of peach and nectarine (PN) spoilage and overproduction along the supply chain, considering Italian and Spanish production sold by one UK wholesaler.
New solutions for the prevention or utilisation of current surplus food and side flows deriving from the food supply chain will likely have monetary and environmental impacts. Based on the methodological framework proposed by “Generic strategy LCA and LCC” (Davis et al. 2017), life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) were applied in two specific case studies, for different supply chains and EU Member States.
The first case study assessed the environmental impacts and cost of the utilisation of food surplus as pig feed through the introduction in UK and France of the processing techniques applied in Japan. Currently, surplus food is managed through a combination of landfill, incineration, composting facilities, and anaerobic digestion. The case study explores the impact of an alternative scenario: heat-treating the food surplus and using it as pig feed.
Greenhouse gas emissions savings of about 1 million tonnes and 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents could be reached in the case of UK and France respectively, depending on how much conventional feed is replaced and the transport distances covered by both surplus food and the new feed product. The net cost effect compared to the baseline scenario would be an overall saving of 278 million € (or 250 million £) in the case of UK, thanks to the displacement of conventional feed products, and an increase of 413 million € in the case of France, due to the large distance between food surplus dense areas and pig farming regions.
This alternative scenario is of interest for countries or regions with high amounts of side flows and relatively nearby pig farms. As this option is currently unavailable due to the European legislation (EC 2002) and political concern, this case study provides new and more detailed insights to take into consideration.
The second case study assessed the environmental impacts and cost of freshly produced peaches/nectarines (PN) in a current supply chain compared to a supply chain where the amount of spoiled and overproduced nectarines from farm to retailer were assumed to be 50% lower. Italian and Spanish PN production sold by one UK wholesaler was considered.
Results show that the UK wholesaler is currently selling 1.4 million kg of PN. The total impact of the current supply chains is about 1.37 million kg CO2e/year, equivalent to 0,98 kg CO2e/kg of PN while total life cycle cost is about 3.8 Million €, equivalent to 2.7 €/kg of PN sold. Most of the impacts and costs derive from long-distance transport with climate-controlled trucks, and from PN handling. In total, 0.5 million kg harvested PN were not sold and distributed through the channels they were intended for. Fresh PN were mostly lost at wholesaler at the country of origin and at farm. In the prevention scenario, for the same amount of PN (1.4 million kg of PN sold to retail), it is assumed that 50% of the current side flows are prevented and reduced to 0.26 million kg per year (0.18kg per every kg sold). The impact on climate change would in this case decrease to 1.3 million kg CO2e/year, equivalent to a 4% reduction compared to the current PN supply chains. The overall life cycle cost would decrease to 3.7 Million €/year corresponding to a 2.6% reduction in costs.
The results showed that actions to prevent food being lost at the later stages in the supply chain (in this case at the wholesaler in the destination country) should be prioritized since this means less PN shipped per kg of PN sold. Prevention strategies might include actions being taken earlier in the chain, e.g. increased sorting to ship fruit with longer expected shelf life. Such measures could be linked to relaxation of cosmetic standards not related with shelf life (e.g. size) and the promotion of secondary markets for surplus fruits with a short expected shelf life.
The study did not include later stages, retail and consumption (where most side flows occur). This limitation should be the focus of further research.
De Menna, F., Davis, J., Bowman, M., Brenes Peralta, L., Bygrave, K., Garcia Herrero, L., Luyckx, K., McManus, W., Vittuari, M., van Zanten, H., Östergren, K., 2019: LCA & LCC of food waste case studies. Assessment of food side flow prevention and valorisation routes in selected supply chains. REFRESH Deliverable 5.5