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Life cycle assessment to eco-design food products: industrial cooked dish case study J. Zufia * , L. Arana Food Research Division AZTI-Tecnalia, Txatxarramendi ugartea z/g, 48395 Sukarrieta (Bizkaia e Biscay), Spain Received 1 February 2007; received in revised form 11 January 2008; accepted 15 January 2008 Available online 21 March 2008 Abstract An industrial cooked dish is one of the food products with the most complex agri-food chain. In this study,
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  Life cycle assessment to eco-design food products:industrial cooked dish case study J. Zufia*, L. Arana  Food Research Division AZTI-Tecnalia, Txatxarramendi ugartea z/g, 48395 Sukarrieta (Bizkaia  e  Biscay), Spain Received 1 February 2007; received in revised form 11 January 2008; accepted 15 January 2008Available online 21 March 2008 Abstract An industrial cooked dish is one of the food products with the most complex agri-food chain. In this study, an eco-design pilot experiment hasbeen performed as a way to develop more efficient and sustainable agri-food products throughout its whole life cycle. To achieve this, a life cycleassessment (LCA) has been carried out to identify and quantify the environmental performance of the production and distribution of a cookedtuna with tomato dish. The most important stages of the life cycle have been established taking into consideration the full environmental impactas well as the potential reductions achievable by the application of various improvements.   2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.  Keywords:  Life cycle assessment; Food product; Eco-design; Product impact reduction 1. Introduction The cost and environmental impact attributed to the saleand consumption of any food product are associated to thetype of manufactured product, its raw materials, the typeand design of the packaging used, the required manufacturingprocesses for its production, the distribution and commercial-ization, and the consumer’s use, among others. Therefore, thetotal cost and the global impact are accumulated throughoutthe whole agri-food chain.The major causes of these costs and its environmental im-pact take place during the eco-design and development of a product; it is at these stages when the raw and auxiliarymaterials, as well as the type of processes necessary for the de-velopment, transportation, conservation and so on are defined.In order to make sustainable food products available in themarkets, it is necessary to develop a technique which mini-mizes those necessities during the design and developmentof the food products so that it is possible to reduce both costsand impact throughout its whole life cycle while maintainingthe food quality and safety. The process of including environ-mental, efficient and cost saving criteria when designinga product is called eco-design.The aim of this project is to carry out an eco-design pilotexperiment on a real food product as a way to develop mea-sures, techniques and strategies oriented to obtain more effi-cient food products. Eco-designed food uses less resourcesand produces less waste and emissions throughout its wholelife cycle, reduces the pollutants in the product, optimizesall the stages of the agri-food chain and reduces associatedcosts and environmental impacts overcoming the possible in-teractions between the reduction of the environmental impactin the design of the product and the maintenance of the foodquality and safety.To achieve this, life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologywas applied to a specific cooked dish product from a represen-tative Spanish company. In order to establish which stage  e input or output  e  or other aspect of the product life cycle isgenerating more impacts on the environment, hypotheticalscenario analyses were conducted. With this information, thekind of measures and stages with the greatest opportunityfor improvement were identified [1]. In addition, this scenarioanalysis provides the main aspects of the product on which theresearch should be focused. * Corresponding author. Tel.:  þ 34 94 602 94 00; fax:  þ 34 94 687 00 06.  E-mail address: (J. Zufia).0959-6526/$ - see front matter    2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2008.01.010  Available online at Journal of Cleaner Production 16 (2008) 1915 e  2. Food product definition The initial product selected as the object of study (selectedas the functional unit within the life cycle assessment) is a 2-kg tray of pasteurized tuna with tomato. This is a commonproduct currently commercialized at a national level and isa typical dish in Spanish cuisine, where elaborated fish dishesare widespread and tuna is one of the most popular fish inSpain. The cooked tuna with tomato dish has been selectedto carry out this pilot eco-design because it presents one of the highest complexity levels in the food sector, due to thefact that it has a high number of raw materials of different in-ternational origins and many life cycle stages. It is alsoa multi-process product.The target clients of this product are catering, retail storechains and distributors at a national level.The formulation of the product is based on fish (tuna), whichis the principal ingredient, some vegetables (tomato, onion andpepper among others) and others such as oil and some spices.The product is packaged in a 70-g, high-density polyethyl-ene (HDPE) rectangular tray, with a film cover made of ori-ented polyamide (OPA) and polyethylene (PE) with a weightof 10.2 g and a thickness of 30  m m. Moreover, this packageis microwavable.In general terms, the manufacturing process of the cookeddish means defrosting and cleaning the tuna, preparing thesauce, mixing both ingredients, decreasing of temperature,vacuum-packaging, a pasteurizing phase, refrigeration, label-ling, storage at 4   C and expedition at the same temperature.The product needs to remain cold for its preservation andhas a 90-day shelf life. It is not ready to be presented to thefinal consumer, so it needs to be transferred to other ceramiccontainers in order to obtain an appropriate nice presentationfor public sale. 3. Life cycle assessment  3.1. System definition The life cycle system of the product has been defined (fromthe raw materials extraction and farming, to the final disposalof the packaging of the product after its consumption) takinginto account the whole agri-food chain, as well as the func-tional unit (the reference used to quantify all data), the systemboundaries and the time horizon considered. To define themost suitable life cycle structure, life cycle assessments previ-ously undertaken have been considered [2 e 4].The life cycle system (complete food chain) has beendivided into four phases, which are shown in Fig. 1 and are de-scribed briefly as follows:   Fishing and supply of tunids : the tuna is caught in the At-lantic Ocean and frozen on board. It is then unloaded ata port in Africa and transported by plane and truck to a dis-tributing plant in the north of Spain. Here, the tuna steaksare made, packed in cardboard boxes and sent to themanufacturing plant by trucks.   Product elaboration : the raw materials, tuna and other in-gredients, are received at the manufacturing plant and, de-pending on their origin, stored at room temperature, incold stores or in freezers for a period of time (tuna10 h, rest of ingredients 72 h). The tuna is then defrostedand cut up into pieces, discarding bones and other partswhich is an approximate 15% loss. The sauce is preparedwith the rest of the ingredients and then mixed with thetuna. Finally, the tuna with tomato is vacuum-packagedin a tray made of HDPE with a PE film and an OPA bar-rier layer. The components of the package come fromNorway and are distributed by a company in Barcelona,which involves significant transportation. Once packaged,it is pasteurized in an autoclave, using water heated bygas that is not reused. Then there is a first step of reduc-tion of the temperature in the same autoclave with coldwater to subsequently achieve a decrease of the tempera-ture to 4   C. Finally it is stored cold at 4   C for 15 e 30days.   Distribution and sale : the trays of tuna with tomato arepacked in cardboard boxes and transported in a refrigeratedtruck at 4   C to the logistics centre. From there they aredistributed to the point of sale (610 km on average). Inthe retail store chains, the product is transferred to a ce-ramic container and then to a polypropylene (PP) tray tobe sold to the public.   Use and elimination : a microwave and suitable containersand crockery are required for the consumption of the prod-uct. These must be cleaned using water and detergent. Thesewage goes through the drains to a sewage treatmentplant, whereas the trays of HDPE and PP are either sentto the landfill (85%) or recycled (15%).  3.2. Inventory and ecobalance All inputs and outputs of the product’s life cycle were char-acterized, quantified and included in a specific LCA program.The data employed came from two main sources:The real data were collected from the company which pro-duces the food product. Information about the equipments,facilities specifications and real product needs was ob-tained from production reports, sales registers and water,electricity and materials invoices. These data were consid-ered to be of the highest quality, since they are obtainedfrom the real production of the product. Other data weremeasured (tray weight, plastics weight, etc.).The rest of the data were obtained from the LCA softwaredatabase DEAM, that includes highly recognized Euro-pean inventories, such as: APME for packaging ‘‘plasticsproduction and conversion’’; ETH for packaging ‘‘en-ergy’’, ‘‘transport’’, ‘‘metals’’ and ‘‘end of life’’; BUWAL250 for package ‘‘steel’’, ‘‘steel’’ and ‘‘pulp and paper’’;BUWAL 250 Y 232, ETH and Chauvel A. for packaging‘‘chemicals’’; and European Aluminium Association(EAA) for packaging ‘‘aluminium’’. 1916  J. Zufia, L. Arana / Journal of Cleaner Production 16 (2008) 1915 e 1921  Table 1 shows that the first stage of fishing and supply of tunids is the most important stage with regards to the quantityor volume of inputs and outputs (86.4% of the total fossil fuelsconsumption; 97.9% of the total biomass use; 86.9% of airemissions; 93.7% of water effluents).The program used for the LCA  e  TEAM 4.0 [5]  e  hasbeen shown to be a powerful tool. In the first stages it is im-portant to fill all the information correctly, so that the modelprovided by the system is as realistic as possible. Once the in-ventory has been completed (definition of the system, Table 1Inventory summary obtained from an LCA software as a result of a characterization and quantification of all inputs and outputs of a tuna with tomato food productlife cycleFlow Unit Total LCA(tuna with tomato)Fishing andsupply of tunidsProductelaborationDistributionand disposalUse andeliminationInputsOxygen g 13,579.29 9382.71 1831.01 436.76 1928.87Minerals g 179.09 35.19 104.00 0.13 39.78Fossil fuels g 7575.12 6548.29 892.85 133.86 0.12Biomass g 5180.31 5070.49 109.43 0.39 0.00Land use cm 2 37.50 9.12 28.37 0.01 0.00Water used (total) l 55.68 27.26 21.08 2.75 4.60OutputsAir emissions g 23,666.83 20,574.05 2600.37 492.08 0.39Land emissions g 0.08 0.01 0.03 0.00 0.04Water effluents g 402.69 377.32 22.75 2.61 0.02Sewage water l 28.59 3.09 18.59 2.30 4.61Recovered matter (total) g 24.20 7.54 6.18 0.12 10.36Waste (total) g 579.47 77.76 307.95 76.34 117.43 Tomato farmingWashing andpackaging Onion farmingWashing andpackaging Peppers farmingWashing andpackaging Oil Sunflowerfarming Flavouring RawmaterialextractionManufacturingand packagingPetroleumextractionManufacturingof plastic HDPEManufacturing of HDPE packageReception andstorage of RMSaucepreparationMixing andpackagingPreservationprocessWoodextractionManufacturingof cardboardPackaging andfinal storageManufacturingof packingDistributionConsume of cooked dishPlasticrecyclingPlasticeliminationSewagetreatmentRepackagingand or saleElectricitygenerationCollectionpotabiliationand supply of water Tuna Fishingand seaAirtransportTransport todistributingplantTuna steaksmanufacture Manufacturingand packaging    P  r  o   d  u  c   t  e   l  a   b  o  r  a   t   i  o  n Fishing andsupply of tuna Use andeliminationDistribution anddisposal Fig. 1. Diagram of the life cycle of the tuna with tomato cooked dish.1917  J. Zufia, L. Arana / Journal of Cleaner Production 16 (2008) 1915 e 1921  introduction of inputs e outputs, classification and definition of variables), the program allows a multitude of simulations of potential environmental impact when modifying any variableof the product to be eco-designed.  3.3. Impact assessment  The calculated inventory and ecobalance generate some en-vironmentalimpacts. Toassesstheseimpacts,firstly,theimpactcategoriestobetakenintoaccounthavebeenselected.Thecho-sen impacts are those which are expected to cause a larger im-pact and used worldwide to evaluate the environmental impactscaused by anthropogenic activity. The assessment methodsused were developed by the Centre of Environmental Science(CML) andEcobilan.Thesemethodsareincludedinthe life cy-cle impact assessment module of TEAM.Using the TEAM 4.0 program (that includes an impact as-sessment module), the environmental impact values for eachstage have been obtained. To achieve this, the total inputsand outputs have been assigned to one or more impact cate-gory, using equivalence factors to obtain environmental indi-cators that permit adding different kinds of inputs e outputsto a specific impact category. Impacts selected and the contri-bution of each life cycle stage to each impact category isshown in Table 2.  3.4. Scenario analysis Different hypothetical scenarios have been selected andcalculated in the LCA software to determine the potential dim-inution of impacts that some aspects and material eliminationwould cause. Since there is a large number of different aspectsthat can be changed in the product life cycle due to its high-complexity, this task has permitted the identification of whichaspects, materials used and energy sources of the product lifecycle have a special bearing on the final impacts. Therefore, itwill be known during which phases, stages and aspects it willbe necessary to insist on for the subsequent identification of improvement measures.The analysed hypothetical scenarios were as follows: dou-ble OPA instead of LDPE; elimination of HDPE, reduction of sea transport, elimination of air and road transport for distribu-tion, elimination of rejects no water repacking, and in the pro-cess of preservation, no consumption of natural gas and finallyno water or power consumption in the manufacturing phase.The LCA software automatically calculates the specific andtotal changes that each new scenario brings on at each and ev-ery one of the life cycle phases (producing, transporting, etc.)and their subsequent environmental impacts.The improvements produced by the hypothetical scenarioswith respect to the current environmental impacts are shownin Table 3.As a result of the scenario analysis mentioned, it has beendetermined that the tuna ingredient is one of the products thatgenerates a greater impact, since in addition to being theheaviest ingredient, it comes from the South Atlantic Oceanand it is transported by airplane to Spain. Furthermore, it istransported and maintained at freezing temperatures.The rest of the ingredients mean a lesser impact because thewhole range of weight and distance is smaller (they come fromregions 150 km away), some arriving cooled or frozen andothers at room temperature.The plastic packages also have an important effect in mostof the categories of impact. This has also been proved in pre-vious studies [6]. In all the categories, transport by road of theproduct exerts a considerable impact.Other aspects that have a significant effect on the globalimpacts of the product are the natural gas and electricalconsumption used in the preservation treatment of theproduct.On the other hand, however, the waste management ele-ment does not affect the total environmental impact [7]. 4. Identification of improvement measures The main food chain stakeholders and product developmentmanagers held brainstorming sessions during which they iden-tified improvement measures, techniques and strategies de-signed to reduce both impacts and costs associated to thelife cycle of the product. A study into state of the art technol-ogy and investigation about the proposed goals and the devel-opment of new specific actions for the product improvementwas also carried out [8].The proposed improvements established at those sessionswere as follows: the enhancement of the concept of the prod-uct, the reduction of the use of materials, the employment of materials with less impact, the improvement of transport effi-ciency and the replacement of raw materials.After a techno-economical and market assessment of all theimprovement measures identified, thosewhich were considered Table 2Summary of environmental impacts related to each life cycle stageEnvironmental impacts LCA tunawith tomatoFishing andsupply of tunidsProductelaborationDistributionand saleUse andeliminationAir acidification, geq.SO 2  107.98 86.60 18.28 3.09 0.00Aquatic toxicity, geq.1,4-DCB 127.66 98.95 26.40 2.31 0.01Depletion of the stratospheric ozone, geq.CFC-11 0.0015 0.0010 0.0004 0.0001 0.0000Eutrophication, geq.PO 43 16.44 13.78 2.03 0.63 0.00Greenhouse effect, geq.CO 2  23,748.33 20,545.97 2692.19 509.85 0.38Human toxicity, geq.1,4-DCB 1376.31 971.28 372.61 32.39 0.03Terrestrial toxicity, geq.1,4-DCB 36.85 27.80 7.86 1.19 0.00Depletion of non-renewable resources, yr  1 0.43 0.36 0.05 0.01 0.001918  J. Zufia, L. Arana / Journal of Cleaner Production 16 (2008) 1915 e 1921
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