A survey of the life cycle assessment of food supply chains
Food supply chains have substantial impacts on our environment, using large amounts of fossil fuel and other non-renewable resources, as well as water and land. Food supply chains are also complex systems, and their evaluation thus requires a study of the entire system, from primary production to end-of-life food-waste solutions.
This paper examines the current state-of-the-art of the published food supply chains Life Cycle Assessment studies and their quality and coherency with the existing standards from the methodological perspective. In particular, we have followed the framework of the International Organization for Standardization, and considered the standard’s requirements, emphasising goal and scope, inventory, life cycle impact assessment and interpretation.
We have surveyed forty-nine research and review papers, sourced from the Web of Science. Additionally, we have carried out a content analysis, identifying research areas and existing research trends. The results identified possible improvements in terms of goals and scope, as well as inventory and life cycle impact assessment, to increase the consistency and reliability of studies. These studies, in turn, affect a transparent and sustainability-oriented decision-making process, which is essential at various levels – company, stakeholders, national and global. Concept maps reveal the most dominant research directions, which are production, use, system and packaging. Missing is a role of socio-economic effects, as food life-cycles include societal and economic functions as well as circular economy options, during production or end-of-life processes.
P. Vidergar, M. Perc, R. Lukman, A survey of the life cycle assessment of food supply chains, Journal of Cleaner Production Vol. 286 (2021) 125506