Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
14 Life Cycle Assessment
in Ruminant Production
K.A. Beauchemin* and E.J. McGeough
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research
Centre, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Life Cycle Assessment in
Animal Production
Continued global expansion of livestock
production to meet the demands of an increas-
ing world population has prompted concerns
over potential environmental impacts. Of pri-
mary concern are the use of resources (such as
land, water and fossil fuel) needed to produce
animal products, and the resulting excretions
and emissions arising from animal production
(Pullar et al ., 2011; see Chapters 2-5, this volume).
Life cycle assessment (LCA) offers a means to
quantify the environmental impact of livestock
production, and to identify mitigation options
that can be implemented to lower the environ-
mental burden. This chapter presents the basic
concepts of LCA and examines how LCA can
be used to assess the environmental impact of
livestock production. Our review focuses on
ruminant production systems and global
warming potential with limited reference to
non-ruminants, as ruminant livestock have
been identified as a greater contributor to
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Steinfeld
et al ., 2006). Further details on the use of LCA
for pig (Hermansen and Kristensen, 2011;
Lammers, 2011) and poultry (Pelletier, 2008;
Hermansen and Kristensen, 2011) production
are available elsewhere.
LCA is a holistic tool used by many industries to
quantify the environmental impact of individual
products (Ekvall and Weidema, 2004). The use
of LCA is often prompted by the demand for
accountability by customers, stakeholders and
government regulators. Increasingly, industry
uses results from LCAs to promote green-
purchasing programmes whereby products are
promoted based on their environmental perfor-
mance. In such schemes, retail products are
labelled as ecofriendly specifying the carbon (C)
footprint or other environmental assessments
(e.g. Environmental Product Declaration;
( The intent of such
labelling is to declare a particular product more
environmentally sound than another, or to com-
pare new alternative ecofriendly products with
existing ones.
The International Organization for
Standardization (ISO, 2006) defines LCA as the
compilation and evaluation of inputs, outputs
and potential environmental impact of a prod-
uct system throughout its life cycle. An LCA that
includes raw material acquisition through to
production, use and disposal is referred to as a
'cradle-to-grave' analysis. Many LCAs have been
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