Integration of Life Cycle Assessment and Regional Emission Information in Agricultural Systems
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
ABSTRACT BACKGROUND Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a compilation and evaluation of the input energy and materials, output emissions and the potential environmental impacts of a product, service or system throughout its life cycle. While methodological issues of LCA are still being developed and much research is being conducted worldwide in order to improve them. One of the important advances in LCA is a regionalized LCA, meaning the development of regionalized databases, inventories, and impact assessment methods and models. RESULTS Regional emission information (REI) was developed and integrated with the characterization results in LCA of an agricultural product in the study area. Comparison of obtained outcomes with LCA characterization results that did not include REI shows that the characterization results taking REI into account are much higher as regards human toxicity, from 0.02% to 0.18%, freshwater ecotoxicity from 89% to 99% and terrestrial ecotoxicity from 8.006 % to 26.177%. CONCLUSION Results of current LCA studies on agricultural products and systems that do not include REI are underestimating the life cycle environmental impact. For the LCA of agricultural products and systems, the REI as well as regionalized life cycle inventory (LCI) data should be developed and integrated into the current LCA approach.