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Title: Environmental performance of a Portuguese mature cheese-making dairy mill
Author: González-García, Sara
Castanheira, Érica G.
Dias, Ana Cláudia
Arroja, Luís
Keywords: Cheese
Dairy sector
Environmental analysis
Life cycle assessment (LCA)
Life cycle inventory analysis (LCI)
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Elsevier
Abstract: An environmental assessment was carried out in order to quantify the environmental consequences of the life cycle of mature cheese production from a cradle-to-gate perspective and to identify the environmental hotspots. To do so, an international cheese-making dairy factory located in Portugal was assessed in detail and inventory data for the different production steps (milk production at dairy farm, cheese manufacturing and whey transformation at industrial dairy factory) were taken on-site. The production line at the industrial dairy factory presents two main products: mature cheese and whey powder. The environmental burdens were allocated between both products based on an economic allocation approach as baseline. However, different methodological approaches, mass allocation and no allocation (assigning the whole environmental load of the production line to the cheese), were also applied in this study. Dairy-farm-related activities play an important role concerning different environmental impact categories, namely acidification (91%), eutrophication (86%), global warming (82%), land competition (99%) and photo-oxidants formation (69%) due to on-farm emissions such as methane from enteric fermentation, ammonia from manure management, combustion emissions from agricultural machineries as well as land requirements for animal fodder production. From cheese-making, the most important contributions are related to abiotic depletion (55%), ozone layer depletion (51%) and cumulative energy demand (55%) mainly due to the energy requirements in the different production processes and to the distribution of input goods up to the dairy gate. Improvement alternatives for the environmental key factors within the limits of the dairy factory were proposed based on a reduction of energy consumption, the use of a more environmentally friendly fuel in the boilers and the use of new trucks with lower exhaust emissions. According to the results, it has been demonstrated that it should be possible to slightly reduce the environmental profile in some impact categories (acidification, eutrophication, global warming and photo-oxidants formation) without involving significant economic investment.
Peer review: yes
DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2012.10.010
ISSN: 0959-6526
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DAO - Artigos

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