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Course content: Life cycle assessment (LCA) of pork chains

All human activities affect the environment. Harmful substances are released to the atmosphere, water and nature via the productive process where non-renewable resources are used. Thus the global environment is impacted by our consumption in widest sense. Different types of consumption and services though, have different environmental consequences.


If we consider the emissions of greenhouse gas (GHG) of all our activities in EU, how much do you think is related to food consumption?

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Food consumption is one of the major driving forces behind environmental impact and resource consumption in households. Tukker et al., (2006) identified those products or services with the greatest impact throughout their life cycle from cradle to grave. The overall conclusion was that the 3 areas - food (and drink), private transport, and housing - each was responsible for 20 - 30 % of the total environment impact of the EU-citizens' overall consumption.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool for an aggregated description of emissions, waste and the resource use from soil to kitchen per unit of different food items. The present learning resource provides general information on LCA and specific information in relation to pork chains. There are examples of how LCA may be used to estimate the environmental impact in the different parts of the chain, which covers processes related to the inputs to the farm, processes on the farm and outputs from the farm, through industrial foodprocessing to retail and cooking.