About 450 scientists from 22 countries gathered at the Biennial World Congress on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in the food industry, in Saint -Malo (France) from October 1-4 to discuss how the application of ecodesign measures and environmental communication in the sector can help to promote the environmental, economic and social sustainability.


Dr. Pere Fullana i Palmer presented a poster titled ¨ A methodological comparison of Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment of fruit and vegetable logistics¨ analyzed and reviewed three studies performed by different institutions and in different countries on the environmental impacts associated to the distribution of fruit and vegetables in Europe. Studies comparing different packaging systems used to transport fruits and vegetables: wooden boxes, cardboard boxes and plastic crates were reviewed. While the first two are non-returnable packaging systems and normally disposed of or partly recycled after one use, plastic crates as a rule are returnable packaging, washed and reused many times. The three institutions involved in that study were: the French Agency for Environment and Energy, Stuttgart University (Germany) and Polytechnic University of Valencia and the Packaging, Transport and Logistics Research Centre (Spain).

Due to momentum created at that conference, Dr. Fullana was interviewed for the magazine Interempresas ¨Life Cycle Assessment and Carbon Footprint, environmental challenges of the food industry¨.

The consumption boom in the last decades, linked to population growth jointly with a hectic and more individualistic lifestyle, which leads to the consumption of individual units, along with ´to use and to throw´ philosophy, has resulted in a significant increase in the amount of waste generated by packaging. Of all municipal waste produced in the European Union (Eurostat 2011), 35 % account for packaging. Also, the statistics seem to confirm that more than 30 % of food is being thrown away without having been eaten. ¨Those kind of figures are being the reason for highlighting the importance of the application of environmental methodologies on food products, particularly in their packaging, both by the government 's legislative pressure but also by the market distribution," explains Dr. Pere Fullana , Director of the UNESCO Chair in Life Cycle and Climate Change. The importance of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) when assessing the environmental impact of packaging is being showed lately with the increasingly number of studies related to that issue. In fact, Life Cycle Initiative of the United Nations (UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative) has launched a research project entitled ' Value Of the life cycle perspective in food and beverage containers: lessons learned after 20 years of LCA' . It aims to demonstrate that LCA results are useful for those who have to decide what type of containers promote and under which circumstances, as provides scientific information, about their environmental, economic and social impacts.

The UNESCO Chair has published a new brochure that briefly explains the activities and projects that have been carried out with regard to the agri-food industry, such as the ¨study of the Carbon Footprint in the poultry sector¨, ¨ Life cycle assessment at crianza wine production in La Rioja, Spain¨ and "Life Cycle Analysis of different supermarket bags” ". Click here to download the brochure.




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