Title: Consumer Footprint. Basket of Products indicator on Food
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2017
JRC N°: JRC107959
ISBN: 978-92-79-73193-8 (print)
978-92-79-73194-5 (pdf)
ISSN: 1018-5593 (print)
1831-9424 (online)
Other Identifiers: EUR 28764 EN
OP KJ-NA-28764-EN-C (print)
OP KJ-NA-28764-EN-N (online)
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC107959
DOI: 10.2760/668763
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: The EU Consumer Footprint aims at assessing the potential environmental impacts due to consumption. The calculation of the Consumer footprint is based on the life cycle assessment (LCA) of representative products (or services) purchased and used in one year by an EU citizen. This report is about the subset indicator of the basket of product (BoP) on food. The BoP food is built to assess the impact associated to food consumption in Europe from raw material extraction to end of life. The reference flow is the amount of food consumed by an average citizen in a reference year. It consists of a process-based life cycle inventory model for a basket of products that represent the most relevant food product groups, selected by importance in mass and economic value. The 19 products in the basket are: pork, beef and poultry meat, milk, cheese, butter, bread, sugar, sunflower oil, olive oil, potatoes, oranges, apples, mineral water, roasted coffee, beer, pre-prepared meals, wine, and pasta. The consumer footprint for the BoP food is assessed using 15 environmental impact categories as for the ILCD LCIA method and running a sensitivity for a number of impact categories with updated models. Results show that agriculture is the life cycle stage of the food system with the larger contribution to most of the impact categories. The product groups that emerge as hotspots in most of the impact categories are meat products, dairy products, and beverages. The main impact for the life cycle of meat products comes from the emissions due to agricultural activities for the production of feed. Direct emissions from animal husbandry (methane, dinitrogen oxide, ammonia, etc.) contribute as well. Normalized results show that the BoP food contributes significantly to several impact categories, with a different ranking depending upon the adopted normalisation reference (European or global). Ecotoxicity, human toxicity, eutrophication, acidification, water depletion and climate change are among the leading impacts. Since many LCA study on food are limited to the assessment of climate change related emissions, the BoP food baseline aims at helping to understand the wider array of impacts associated to the food system of production and consumption. Moreover, the Consumer Footprint BoP food baseline has been assessed against 5 scenarios, referring to improvement options related to the main drivers of impact. In fact, the scenarios act on the hotspots identified within the baseline and refer to the most relevant eco-innovations and behavioural changes identified through a review of the scientific literature. Scenario 1 and Scenario 4 act on the nutrients cycle, with the aim of recovering nutrients either at the production stage or the end of life stage. Scenario 2 acts at the end of life stage as well, by assuming an improvement of the efficiency of the waste water treatment in Europe. Scenario 3 is a first attempt to address the benefits of behavioural changes, with an example of reduced amount of meat consumed. Scenario 5 regards the topic of food waste prevention, and entails a number of prevention measures, acting at different stages of the food supply chain, including the use phase. The scenarios tested on the baseline of the BoP food provided insights on the potential for reducing environmental impacts of food consumption in Europe. Each scenario acts on a different component of the BoP (in term of either products, life cycle stages or composition of the basket). As the scenarios are different in type it was found out that the was a large difference on the different scores and savings among the investigated impact categories. In general, among the scenarios assessed, the options that allow for a higher reduction of impacts are the ones acting on the drivers of freshwater eutrophication, such as recovery of nutrients from urine or improvement of the wastewater treatment. It is important to highlight that results of scenarios shall be analysed considering a certain “uptake factor” across EU (it is not realistic to assume 100% change across EU27). It is also recommended to consider the combination of improvement actions, to cover a wider range of impacts and to maximize the potential of impact reduction, both at the scale of the single citizen and of the whole Europe. An example has been provided in the case of combined actions for the scenario on food waste prevention.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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