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Comparative life cycle assessment of margarine and butter consumed in the UK, Germany and France

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Purpose The goal of the study was to compare the environmental impact of butter and margarine. Altogether, seven products were studied in three European markets: UK, Germany and France. Methods The approach used for the analysis is descriptive (attributional) LCA. The SimaPro software PRé 2007 was used to perform the calculations. Data for the production chain of the margarine products (production of raw materials, processing, packaging and logistics) were compiled from Unilever manufacturing sites, suppliers and from literature. The edible oil data inventories have been compared with those in proprietary databases (ecoinvent and SIK food database) and they show a high degree of similarity. For the butter products, data on milk production and butter processing were taken from various published studies for the countries of interest. Sensitivity analyses were conducted for a number of parameters (functional unit, allocation method, impact of using different oil, milk and dairy data, impact of estimating GHG emissions from land use change for certain oils) in order to evaluate their influence on the comparison between margarine and butter. The sensitivity analyses demonstrate that the initial results and conclusions are robust. Results The results show that margarine has significantly lower environmental impact (less than half) compared to butter for three impact categories global warming potential, eutrophication potential and acidification potential. For primary energy demand, the margarines have a lower impact than butter, but the difference is not as significant. Margarines use approximately half of the land required used for producing the butter products. For POCP, the impact is higher for the margarines due to the use of hexane in the oil extraction (no similar process occurs for butter). Conclusions The margarine products analysed here are more environmentally favourable than the butter products. In all three markets (UK, DE and FR) the margarine products are significantly better than the butter products for the categories global warming potential, eutrophication potential and acidification potential. These findings are also valid when comparing margarines and butters between the markets; for this reason they are likely to be of general relevance for other Western European countries where similar margarine and butter production systems are found.
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LCA FOR FOOD PRODUCTS
Comparative life cycle assessment of margarine and butter
consumed in the UK, Germany and France
Katarina Nilsson &Anna Flysjö &Jennifer Davis &
Sarah Sim &Nicole Unger &Simon Bell
Received: 12 January 2010 / Accepted: 4 July 2010 /Published online: 26 August 2010
#Springer-Verlag 2010
Abstract
Purpose The goal of the study was to compare the
environmental impact of butter and margarine. Altogether,
seven products were studied in three European markets:
UK, Germany and France.
Methods The approach used for the analysis is descriptive
(attributional) LCA. The SimaPro software PRé 2007 was
used to perform the calculations. Data for the production
chain of the margarine products (production of raw
materials, processing, packaging and logistics) were com-
piled from Unilever manufacturing sites, suppliers and from
literature. The edible oil data inventories have been
compared with those in proprietary databases (ecoinvent
and SIK food database) and they show a high degree of
similarity. For the butter products, data on milk production
and butter processing were taken from various published
studies for the countries of interest. Sensitivity analyses
were conducted for a number of parameters (functional
unit, allocation method, impact of using different oil, milk
and dairy data, impact of estimating GHG emissions from
land use change for certain oils) in order to evaluate their
influence on the comparison between margarine and butter.
The sensitivity analyses demonstrate that the initial results
and conclusions are robust.
Results The results show that margarine has significantly
lower environmental impact (less than half) compared to
butter for three impact categories global warming
potential, eutrophication potential and acidification po-
tential. For primary energy demand, the margarines have
a lower impact than butter, but the difference is not as
significant. Margarines use approximately half of the
land required used for producing the butter products. For
POCP, the impact is higher for the margarines due to the
use of hexane in the oil extraction (no similar process
occurs for butter).
Conclusions The margarine products analysed here are
more environmentally favourable than the butter prod-
ucts. In all three markets (UK, DE and FR) the
margarine products are significantly better than the butter
products for the categories global warming potential,
eutrophication potential and acidification potential. These
findings are also valid when comparing margarines and
butters between the markets; for this reason they are
likely to be of general relevance for other Western
European countries where similar margarine and butter
production systems are found.
Keywords Butter .Carbon footprint .Fat .Life cycle
assessment .Margarine .Spreads
Responsible editor: Niels Jungbluth
K. Nilsson (*):A. Flysjö :J. Davis
SIKThe Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology,
P.O. Box 5401, 40229 Gothenburg, Sweden
e-mail: kn@sik.se
S. Sim :N. Unger
UnileverSafety and Environmental Assurance Centre,
Unilever,
Sharnbrook MK40 1LQ, UK
S. Bell
Unilever House, Unilever UK,
Springfield Drive,
Leatherhead KT22 7GR, UK
Present Address:
A. Flysjö
Arla Foods amba,
Skanderborgvej 277,
8260 Viby J, Denmark
Int J Life Cycle Assess (2010) 15:916926
DOI 10.1007/s11367-010-0220-3
1 Introduction
Margarine was first developed more than 100 years ago as an
inexpensive alternative to butter and it soon captured a
substantial segment of the market. For companies producing
products such as margarine, spreads
1
and butter, long-term
growth is likely to be fuelled by a focus on health and
nutrition, but also on their commitment to manage their
environmental impacts. Increasingly, companies must find
more sustainable ways of doing business; this is emphasised
by the growing interest in carbon footprint standards and
labelling schemes internationally (e.g. PAS 2050 and the
Carbon Trust label in the UK, Grenelle de lenvironnement in
France and the Product Carbon Footprint System in Japan). A
number of life cycle assessment studies on margarine and
milk have already been conducted (e.g. Shonfield and
Dumelin 2005; Nielsen et al. 2003; Cederberg and Flysjö
2004; Thomassen et al. 2008) but to our knowledge, few
studies have examined the impacts of butter across the whole
life cycle (Nielsen et al. 2003). This paper describes research
undertaken to analyse the environmental impact of margarine
and butter products sold in selected European markets to
understand how these products compare. Such studies are also
useful for manufacturers to identify opportunities to reduce
their own respective environmental impacts, e.g. through
product and packaging optimisation or new product innovation.
2 Method
The approach used for the analysis is descriptive (attribu-
tional) LCA, i.e. it is an accounting LCA, documenting
current activities, often approximated by past (most recent)
data (as described in Section 2.5). The SimaPro software
(PRé 2007) was used to perform the calculations.
Sensitivity analyses were conducted for a number of
parameters (functional unit, allocation method and impact of
using different oil, milk and dairy data) in order to evaluate
their influence on the conclusions of the comparison between
margarine and butter. Biogenic carbon is not included in this
study. The carbon captured by plants while growing is
assumed being released when the final product is consumed,
thus the uptake and release is equal and therefore a plus minus
zero assumption is made for the biogenic carbon. However, in
the discussion a sensitivity analysis is made based on biogenic
carbon emissions from direct land use change associated with
palm oil cultivation (Section 4).
An external review according to ISO 14 040 and 14 044 (ISO
2006a,b) was performed on the study by ART (Agroscope
Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station) Zurich, Switzerland.
2.1 Products studied
Two products, one margarine product and one butter product,
were studied in three markets: UK, Germany and France. For
the UK market a spreadable butter containing 25% vegetable
oil was also included. In total seven products were included in
the analysis. The products were selected as they are
representative of the biggest selling stock keeping units in
the three markets. The compared productsare given in Table 1.
2.2 Environmental impacts considered
The following impact categories were included in the
analysis, selected on the basis of their importance to food
production systems: primary energy use (PE), global
warming potential 100 years (GWP, sometimes also
referred to as carbon footprint), eutrophication potential
(EP), acidification potential (AP), photochemical ozone
creation potential (POCP). The characterisation method
used in the study was CML 2001 (Guinée et al. 2002)
available in the SimaPro software, (PRé 2007). However,
the method was adjusted to include the latest GWP
characterisation factors for methane (25 g CO
2
-eq/g CH
4
)
and nitrous oxide (298 g CO
2
-eq/g N
2
O) published by the
IPCC in 2007(IPCC 2007). For primary energy use, the
cumulative energy demand (CED) was calculated according
to the method published by ecoinvent (Frischknecht et al.
2003), including energy from the following categories:
fossil, nuclear, biomass, wind, solar, geothermal and hydro.
The CED is the total (primary) energy use, based on the
upper heating value (or gross calorific value).
Impacts related to land use (e.g. soil degradation) and
pesticide application (e.g. toxicity effects) are also relevant for
food production systems, though it was not possible to assess
these impacts here due to lack of data and/or agreed or robust
methodological approaches. However, land occupation (m
2
*a)
was included as a crude proxy for potential land use effects.
2.3 Functional unit
This study focuses on margarine and butter used as a
spread, i.e. to act as a barrier to stop sandwich fillings
making the bread go soggy; to make the cheese, ham or
other toppings stick to the bread; or simply to improve the
eating experience by making the bread less dry. We believe
the same amount of either margarine or butter is used to
fulfil this function. The recommended serving size for
margarine is 10 g (IMACE 2008); this is also assumed for
1
Traditional margarine has an 80% fat content; products which
contain lower fat levels cannot be labelled margarine, but are instead
referred to as spreadsfor on-pack labelling. However, the words
spreads and margarine are used interchangeably in this paper.
Int J Life Cycle Assess (2010) 15:916926 917
butter. Thus, the functional unit of the study is 500 g of
packaged butter/margarine intended for use as a spread,
delivered to the manufacturers distribution centre in each
country (i.e. UK, Germany and France). The use of these
products for any other purpose (e.g. cooking or the provision
of nutrients/calories) is not considered. However, in order to
understand whether the difference in environmental impact
between the products is due to the type of fat used (animal or
vegetable), or to the differing fat content of these products, a
sensitivity analysis is presented in Section 4. This shows the
results related to the amount of fat in each product, i.e. 500 g
of fat contained in packaged butter/margarine delivered to
the manufacturers distribution centre in each country.
2.4 System boundaries
The system boundary is drawn from the cradle to the main
Unilever distribution centre in each country for both the
Transport
Oil extraction, refining
and processing
Margarine production
Distribution
Pesticide
production
Fertiliser
production
Production of
packaging
Production of
fuels/electricity/heat
Oil crop
agriculture
Other agricultural
processes
Production of BMP,
starch etc
Transport
Transport
Transport
Distribution centre
Waste treatment
of packaging
Back
g
round s
y
ste
m
For
Transport
Oil extraction, refining
and processing
Margarine production
Distribution
Pesticide
production
Fertiliser
production
Production of
packaging
Production of
fuels/electricity/heat
Oil crop
agriculture
Other agricultural
processes
Production of BMP,
starch etc
Transport
Transport
Transport
Distribution centre
Waste treatment
of packaging
Foreground system
Fig. 1 Schematic flowchart of production of margarine
Market Margarine Spreadable butter Butter
UK 38% fat 80% fat (25% is rapeseed oil) 80% fat
Sold in 500 g units Sold in 500 g units Sold in 500 g units
Polypropylene tub Polypropylene tub Butter wrapper
Produced in: UK Produced in: Denmark Produced in: Denmark
Germany 70% fat 80% fat
Sold in 500 g units Sold in 250 g units
Polypropylene tub Butter wrapper
Produced in: Netherlands/Germany
(50/50)
Produced in: Germany
France 60% fat 80% fat
Sold in 500 g units Sold in 250 g units
Polypropylene tub Butter wrapper
Produced in: Spain Produced in: France
Table 1 Products compared in
the study
Transport
Dairy
Butter production
Distribution
Pesticide
production
Fertiliser
production
Production of
packaging
Production of
fuels /electricity/heat
Dairy farm
incl. feed production
Oil crop
agriculture
Oil extraction, refining
and processing
Transport
Transport
Distribution centre
Waste treatment
of packaging
Back
g
round s
y
ste
m
Foreground system
Fig. 2 Schematic flowchart of production of butter
918 Int J Life Cycle Assess (2010) 15:916926
margarine and the butter products (Figs. 1and 2). The starting
point of the studied system is extraction of raw materials for
the production of ingredients, materials and fuels required for
the production of butter and margarine. In the case of
margarine, the agricultural stage includes the production of
oil seeds and associated farm inputs. For butter, the
agricultural stage incorporates all major farm activities and
emissions at farm level, including the production of feed for
the dairy cows (both produced on-farm and purchased) as
well as other farm inputs. Oil production is displayed in
dotted boxes in Fig. 2, only one of the butter products (the
spreadable butter) contains vegetable oil (25%). Storage at
the distribution centre, transport to the retailer and storage at
the retailer and household stages are not included (these are
assumed to be similar for all products studied). However,
waste management of the packaging is included even though
this takes place beyond the distribution centre, to ensure a
fair comparison of the different products.
2.5 Data and sources
Data for the production chain of the margarine products
(production of raw materials, processing, packaging and
logistics) were compiled from Unilever
2
manufacturing
sites (Unilever 2008), suppliers (Unilever suppliers 2005
2008) and from literature sources (Corley and Tinker 2003).
The edible oil data inventories have been compared with
those that can be found in ecoinvent database (2007) and
also in SIKs database (unpublished) and there is a high
degree of similarity. These data are considered to be recent
(ranging from 2004 to 2007) and to represent the studied
systems well. Data on butter milk powder was taken from
Högaas Eide (2002) and Nielsen et al (2003).
Data on milk production for the butter products have been
taken from published studies. Data on milk production for UK
butter (which, in this case, is produced in Denmark) is taken
from the Danish food database (Nielsen et al. 2003). These
data represent eight typical Danish dairy farm types in 1999,
which accounts for 85% of the total milk produced in
Denmark. Since results are calculated based on consequential
LCA in the Danish food database, here, raw data for one farm
type (representing 43% of total milk production in Denmark)
were used to model the milk production in Denmark based on
attributional LCA (as this is the chosen method in this study).
Data for milk production in Germany are taken from Haas et
al. (2001), comparing intensive, extensive and organic
grassland farming in southern Germany (Allgäu region); only
the results for intensive grassland farming were used. The
milk production in France is based on an LCA study
comparing conventional and organic milk production at farm
level (van der Werf et al. 2009). In total, 47 dairy farms were
studied in the Bretagne area (41 conventional and six
organic), but here only the results from the conventional
farms have been used. The data used for milk production are
the best available and are considered to be of good quality to
fulfil the purpose of this study. Data for the processing of
butter were collected from the Danish food database (Nielsen
et al. 2003), which gives data for a large-scale manufacturing
facility. These processing data are considered representative
of butter production in the studied countries and have
therefore been used for all three butter products. In order to
consider country-specific conditions the data for electricity
and fuel mixes were adapted. In addition the main butter
production sites/regions in each of the studied countries were
identified and transport distances were calculated from these
production sites/regions to the distribution centre in each
country (the same distribution centre as for the margarine
products). Specific packaging data according to the biggest
selling stock keeping units in the three markets have been
2
Unilever is one of the worlds leading suppliers of fast moving
consumer goods (Foods and Home and Personal Care Products).
Ingredients UK Germany France
(38% fat content) (70% fat content) (60% fat content)
% of mass % of mass % of mass
Rapeseed oil 36.18 20.86
Sunflower oil 25.50 3.48 17.88
Palm kernel oil ––5.96
Maize oil 3.48
Rearranged mixture of palm
and palm kernel oil
6.65 26.44 14.90
Linseed oil 5.93 ––
Modified tapioca starch 2.75 ––
Salt 1.30 ––
Sweet buttermilk powder ––0.50
Water 57.20 29.15 39.01
Total 99.33 98.73 99.11
Tab l e 2 Composition of the
three margarine products
Source: Unilever (2008)
Int J Life Cycle Assess (2010) 15:916926 919
used for each product. Average data have been used for
processes occurring in the background system (see Figs. 1
and 2; e.g. transport and energy); these were mainly taken
from ecoinvent (2007). The composition of the margarine
products is given in Table 2. Ingredients less than 0.5% of
mass have been excluded. Because lack of inventory data the
following assumptions have been made: potato starch
(ecoinvent 2007) has been used instead of tapiocha starch,
rapeseed oil instead of linseed oil but with an additional
contribution of a transport from Canada, for the maize oil
maize corn cultivation (ecoinvent 2007) has been used with
pressing and refining processing data from the palm oil.
Some key data are given in Tables 3and 4for oil and
margarine production and Tables 5and 6for milk and butter
production. The fat content for butter is 80%, butter milk
0.4%, cream 40%, skim milk in Denmark and Germany
Table 3 Key inventory data for production of rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil (source: Unilever suppliers (20052008);
Corley and Tinker (2003))
Description Rape seed oil Sunflower oil Palm oil Palm kernel oil
Crop production
General
Mass of harvested crop [kg/ha/year] 4,250 1,500 25,000 25,000
Diesel fuel consumed [kg/ha/year] 59.5 38.9 168.1 168.1
Pesticide active ingredient applied [kg/ha/year] 0.535 1.03 10.6 10.6
Fertilisers
Ammonium sulphate [kg-N/ha/year] 72 22 22
Lime fertiliser [kg-CaO/ha/year] 400
Potassium chloride [kg-K
2
O/ha/year] 241 7.5 170 170
Urea fertiliser [kg-N/ha/year] 136 55
Other NP or NPK fertiliser (assumed to monoammonium phosphate)
[kg-N/ha/year]
45
Phosphate rock [kg-P
2
O
5
/ha/year] 14.2 20.1 20.1
Triple superphosphate [kg-P
2
O
5
/ha/year] 59.5
Nitrogen obtained from other sources [kg-N/ha/year] 26.36 26.36
Oil extraction
Crop input to crushing mill [kg] 2,500 2,500 4,545 4,545
Crude oil production [kg] 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000
Meal production [kg] 1,500 1,500
Palm kernel production (contains 50% oil) [kg] 227 227
Shell produced during oil extraction process [kg] 3,318 3,318
Electricity [MJ] 500 500
Hexane [kg] 2 2 2 2
Steam [MJ] 1,680 1,680
Refined oil production
Acid oil co-product [kg/tonne] 36.85 37.95 61.46 67.2
Activated carbon [kg/tonne] 2.02 5.05
Bleaching earth [kg/tonne] 7.06 3.03 7.45 4.3
Electricity [kWh/tonne] 54.8 47.91 48.07
Diesel Fuel [kg/tonne] 8.02 8.02 8.48 8.53
Crude oil input [kg/tonne] 1,046.46 1,046.84 1,064.17 1,068.8
Steam [kg/tonne] 265.91 266.01 214.19 214.67
Product Unit Electricity (from grid) Gas Light fuel oil Total
UK margarine GJ/t 0.499 0.828 0 1.327
DE margarine GJ/t 0.374 0.628 0.005 1.01
FR margarine GJ/t 0.295 0.749 0.016 1.06
Table 4 Energy use for
production of the different
margarine products (source:
Unilever 2008)
920 Int J Life Cycle Assess (2010) 15:916926
0.05% and skim milk in France 0%. This gives slight
differences in the amount of milk needed for producing one
kg of butter in the different countries as shown in Table 6.
2.6 Allocation
There are several processes in the systems which generate
more than one useful output, e.g. extraction of vegetable oil
which generates both oil and meal and rearing of dairy
cows which yields both milk and meat. For all multi-output
processes we employ economic allocation to distribute the
environmental impact between the co-products. This was
the allocation method which could be applied to all
activities for both margarines and butter. However, we
performed sensitivity analyses with other allocation meth-
ods in order to check the robustness of the results including:
mass allocation for the vegetable oil extraction, allocation
according to the causality between the supply of energy and
protein to cover the dairy cows milk production (allocated to
the milk) and her maintenance and pregnancy (allocated to the
meat) according to Cederberg and Stadig (2003). For dairy, an
alternative allocation method according to the allocation matrix
developed by Feitz et al. (2007) was also applied; this is based
on milk solids content and average resource use (e.g. energy,
water) of the different dairy products. Table 7gives a summary
of the allocation factors that have been used in the study.
For the waste management of packaging, a cut-off at
recycling has been applied, i.e. we assume that the cost and
benefit of the recycling is allocated to the life cycle in
which the material is used next. If recycled material is used
as an input to the system, this is taken into account. The
reason for this assumption is that the use of recycled
material is more likely to drive recycling than the supply of
recyclate. Incineration of packaging is taken into account in
that emissions are included in the analysis, allocated to the
waste disposal stage. However, any waste heat that is
recovered is ascribed to the life cycle in which the energy is
used (there considered as freeenergy). In this way, the
production of waste is not associated with credits.
3 Results
There are large differences between the environmental
impact of butter and margarine, independent of market
(Table 8and Fig. 3).
Thedifferencebetweenthemargarineandbutter
products is least significant when considering energy use
Table 5 Inventory results: emissions for 1 kg of milk at farm gate
Emission Denmark Germany France
(g per kg milk) (g per kg milk) (g per kg milk)
CO
2
270 180 170
CH
4
25 34 29
N
2
O 2.3 1.4 1.3
SO
2
0.71 0.15 1.6
NO
X
1.8 1.2 1.9
NH
3
7.1 9.4 4.0
NO
3
72 14 68
PO
4
0.91 2.7 0.19
No allocation between milk and meat is performed in this Table
(i.e. here, all emissions are allocated to the milk; source: Nielsen et al.
2003; Haas et al. 2001; van der Werf et al. 2009). Please note that
allocation has been performed in the analysis, according to Table 6
Table 6 Inputs and outputs (unallocated) used for modelling the
butter production at the dairy
Dairy sites Denmark Germany France
a
Inputs
Milk kg 18.90 18.90 18.70
Electricity MJ 3.79 3.79 3.75
Heat from natural gas MJ 3.35 3.59 3.59
Heat from oil MJ 0.37 0.13 0.092
Water kg 14.12 14.12 13.98
Outputs
Skim milk kg 16.89 16.89 16.69
Butter kg 1 1 1
Butter milk kg 1.01 1.01 1.01
Waste water to treatment kg 14.12 14.12 13.98
a
The fat content in the French skim milk is lower than for the Danish and
German skim milk
Table 7 Allocation factors employed in the study
Impact allocated to Percentage impact
(economic
allocation)
Percentage impact
(alternative
allocation)
Extraction sunflower oil
Crude oil 82 40
Cake 18 60
Extraction rapeseed oil
Crude oil 77 40
Cake 23 60
Extraction palm oil/palm
kernel oil
Palm oil 85 90
Palm kernel oil 15 10
Milk UK (DK) 87 85
Milk FR 82 85
Milk DE 90 85
Butter 33 22
a
a
For raw milk, specific allocation factors are then used for electricity
(12%), thermal energy (20%) and water (12%)
Int J Life Cycle Assess (2010) 15:916926 921
but in all countries the margarine products require less
energy than butter products. In the UK, margarine requires
about 50% less energy; for Germany the difference is about
25% and for France, 20%. UK butter has the highest energy
use, whilst the UK margarine is the product with the lowest
energy requirement (mostly due to the low fat content).
The largest difference between butter and margarine
occurs for the GWP impact category. The carbon footprint
of the margarine does not exceed 25% of that for butter,
independent of the country. For both AP and EP, the butter
products contribute at least twice as much as the margar-
ines, in all three countries. The agricultural land occupation
for the margarines is smaller in comparison to the land use
for the butters (around half). The reason, of course, is that
more land is needed to produce the feed for the cows
(i.e. concentrate feed, grains and grazing), than is needed to
produce the vegetable oil crops for the margarines.
The only environmental impact that is higher for the
margarine products compared to butter is POCP. This is due
to the use of hexane in the oil extraction (no similar process
occurs in butter production). For margarines, the fat content
plays an important role for this impact; the more oil used in
the recipe, the more hexane required for extraction. Thus
the POCP contribution is highest for the FR margarine,
which has the highest fat content and lowest for the UK
margarine, which has the lowest fat content. It was not
possible to estimate the complete POCP impact for the
French and German butter products since data at the farm
level was missing. However, when comparing the POCP
impact from the UK butter with the margarines the
PE GWP EP AP land
competition POCP
UK margarine 44 11 23 20 38 289
DE margarine 54 14 22 30 26 119
FR margarine 61 17 28 32 38 487
UK butter 100 100 100 100 100 100
UK spreadable 97 76 77 83 79 257
DE butter 73 93 72 121 68 42
FR butter 79 74 74 65 74 38
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
140
% related to UK butter
Fig. 3 The relative difference
per impact category for all
seven products: margarine
has a significantly lower
environmental impact than
butter for all impact categories
shown, both when comparing
within and between countries
Table 8 Environmental impact of the margarine and butter products per FU
PE GWP EP AP POCP Land competition
MJ kg CO
2
eq kg PO
4
eq kg SO
2
eq kg C
2
H
4
eq m
2
a
UK margarine 9.1 0.55 0.0070 0.0078 0.00031 2.3
DE margarine 11 0.66 0.0066 0.012 0.00062 1.6
FR margarine 13 0.83 0.0083 0.012 0.00052 2.3
UK butter 21 4.8 0.030 0.038 0.00011 5.9
UK spreadable 20 3.7 0.023 0.032 0.00028 4.7
DE butter 15 4.5 0.022 0.046 0.000045
a
4.0
FR butter 16 3.6 0.022 0.025 0.000041
a
4.4
a
Contribution from the dairy farm is not included due to lack of data
922 Int J Life Cycle Assess (2010) 15:916926
contribution to POCP for the margarines is about five times
higher than for UK butter.
Even allowing for results being under- or overestimated
by as much as 20% (i.e. to account for potential variability
around inventory data), margarine still has a significantly
lower environmental impact than butter (around half) for
global warming potential, eutrophication potential and
acidification potential.
When comparing margarine and butter products in terms
of energy use, the difference ranges from 20% to 50% less
energy required for the margarine products. Alternative
palm oil and sunflower oil data sources (ecoinvent) used for
the sensitivity analysis (Section 4) result in a slightly
increased energy demand for all margarine products, but
they still require significantly less energy than the butter
products, i.e. the results are considered robust.
The agricultural stage contributes most to the environ-
mental impact for all products, and is particularly signifi-
cant when it comes to milk production for butter. The
packaging has a smaller influence on the environment
compared to the impact from the product, for both
margarine and butter. However, the margarine packaging
(PP moulded tub and lid) has a higher GWP impact than the
butter wrapping (aluminium-laminated paper), representing
about 1020% of the total GWP impact for margarines.
4 Discussion and sensitivity analysis
A variety of sensitivity analyses were performed to verify
the robustness of the results. The following parameters
were checked in order to see how they affect the
comparison between margarine and butter as listed below.
4.1 Fat content (alternative FU)
First an alternative FU was analysed based on the fat
content of the products in order to determine if the
differences in environmental impact for butter and marga-
rine are attributable to the fat content or the type of fat
(animal or vegetable). Table 9shows the amount of product
needed to provide 500 g of fat. The increase is the same for
all butters (25% more compared to the base case), while it
varies for the margarines. When considering the environ-
mental impacts related to 500 g of fat versus 500 g of
product, the largest differences are seen for the UK
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
% related to UK butter (PE)
UK margarine 350944
DE margarine 752645
FR margarine 872816
UK butter 001001001
UK spreadable 4017979
DE butter 963737
FR butter 779797
Base case Alternative FU Alternative allocation
Fig. 4 Primary energy use, base
case compared to results pro-
duced with alternative functional
unit and allocation method,
respectively
UK (g of product) DE (g of product) FR (g of product)
Margarine 1,282 718 839
Butter/spreadable 625 625 625
Table 9 Weight of product (g)
required to provide 500 g of fat
Int J Life Cycle Assess (2010) 15:916926 923
margarine due to its low fat content (only half the fat
content of butter). The fat content in the DE and FR
margarines are closer to the fat content in butter (70% and
60% compared to 80%) and therefore the results in
comparison to the base case are not dissimilar. The results
for PE and GWP related to the 100% fat content (alternative
FU) are shown in the middle section of Figs. 4and 5, whilst
results related to product weight (base case) are shown to
the left. The results show that the energy use is somewhat
higher or similar for the butter products than the margarines
looking within the same country, but the DE butter now
requires less energy compared to the UK and FR
margarines (see Fig. 4). For contribution to global warming,
the butter products still have a higher contribution to global
warming than the margarines (see Fig. 5) when compared
both within and between countries. Also for EP and AP the
results (not shown) are similar to the ones for GWP. In
conclusion, even when accounting for the differences in fat
content, the margarine products have a significantly lower
impact than the butter products, except for energy use,
where the difference is small, and land use (not shown) for
the UK case. This indicates that the environmental impact
of these products is determined by the type of fat used
(animal or vegetable) and not just the fat content.
4.2 Allocation methods
Allocation is often one of the more critical methodological
choices when conducting LCA studies (e.g. Cederberg and
Stadig 2003; Feitz et al. 2007). The effect of using different
allocation methods was also analysed here as a second
sensitivity analysis. Using an alternative allocation method
gave a higher result for the margarines while the butter
products showed lower results. Hence, the difference
between margarines and butters were somewhat reduced.
However, the results still show that butter has, in all cases
but two (energy use for DE and FR butter with alternative
allocation compared to FR margarine with alternative
allocation), a higher energy use and GWP than the
margarines (see Figs. 4and 5). In all cases, i.e. independent
of allocation method used, the contribution to global
warming is more than three times larger for the butter
products compared to the margarines. For eutrophication and
acidification too, the comparison between margarine and
butter remains unchanged, independent of allocation method
used (i.e. margarine has significantly less impact than butter).
4.3 Using alternative data (including land use change)
for vegetable oils
A third sensitivity analysis was performed using data from
different data sources for the two key vegetable oils, sunflower
oil and palm oil. These data were taken from ecoinvent (2007),
Schmidt (2007)andSIKs food database (unpublished).
Sunflower oil is the oil with highest GWP and the higher
content of sunflower oil in the UK margarine results in a
higher carbon footprint for this product. If the dataset for
sunflower cultivation is replaced with the data set from
0
20
40
60
80
100
120
% related to UK butter (GWP)
UK margarine 313211
DE margarine 516141
FR margarine 223271
UK butter 001001001
UK spreadable 776767
DE butter 983939
FR butter 774747
Base case Alternative FU Alternative allocation
Fig. 5 Global warming
potential base case compared to
results produced with alternative
functional unit and allocation
method, respectively
924 Int J Life Cycle Assess (2010) 15:916926
ecoinvent (2007) which has the highest environmental
impact of the compared data sources, the GWP result
would be 20% higher for the UK margarine, but still it
would only represent 19% (instead of 16% as in the base
case) of the UK butter contribution to GWP per FU.
For palm oil the impact of a worst case scenario including
potential contributions from direct land use change (assuming
transformed forest land, 50% in Malaysia and 50% in
Indonesia, using data from PAS 2050 (2008)), cultivation on
peat soils (assuming that approximately 4% of palm is
cultivated on peat, Schmidt 2007) and contributions from the
POME waste fraction (Schmidt 2007) in the palm oil and
palm kernel oil data was analysed. In this scenario the GWP
of the margarine products still does not exceed 50% of the
GWP from the bestbutter (French).
4.4 Comparison of data on milk production
with other sources
Since data on milk production for the countries of interest
were taken from the literature, a comparison with other
studies on milk was performed as a fourth sensitivity
analysis. Comparing results from other European milk
studies at farm gate (Casey and Holden 2005; Cederberg
and Mattsson 2000; Cederberg and Flysjö 2004; Cederberg
et al. 2007; Hospido 2005; Thomassen et al 2008; Williams
et al. 2006) shows a range between 0.9 kg CO
2
-eq
(Cederberg and Flysjö 2004) to 1.4 kg CO
2
-eq (Thomassen
et al. 2008) per kilogram of milk. All figures are at farm
gate; Cederberg, Casey and Holden and Hospido refer to
energy corrected milk, Thomassen to fat and protein
corrected milk and Williams it is not stated. The data used
in this study gave results (1.37 kg CO
2
-eq for DK, 1.29 kg
CO
2
-eq for DE and 1.04 kg CO
2
-eq for FR milk at farm
gate), which are within this range (0.91.4 kg CO
2
-eq).
4.5 Energy use at dairy for butter production
The final sensitivity assessment was conducted to check the
effect of altering the energy use data for the dairy manufactur-
ing site. Since data for dairy manufacturing are based on a
large-scale plant, they may not be representative for Europe (e.
g. in France a lot of small-scale manufacturing sites exists). For
this reason, the energy use was doubled (assuming inefficien-
cies of small-scale production), resulting in a 14% increase in
energy use and a 5% increase in GWP for UK butter per FU.
Similar increases were shown for the other butter products.
In summary, two major factors determine the environ-
mental impact of the butters and margarines:
1. The origin of the fat (milk or vegetable and for the
latter which type of vegetable oil)
2. The fat content.
This is because for all impact categories and all products, the
agricultural stage contributes most to the overall impact of the
product (with the exception of POCP for margarine). The
environmental impact of milk at the farm gate is higher than the
impact of producing oil crops, mainly due to the impact of
methane emissions from enteric fermentation in cowsdiges-
tive systems, the production or feed for dairy cows and also the
emissions from manure handling. There is also a difference in
the environmental impact of the different vegetable oils used in
the margarines; sunflower oil has a higher impact than the other
oils. In fact this can override much of the benefit offered by
lower fat content. This can clearly be seen for the UK
margarine which has a fat content of only 38%. However,
because this margarine contains a high level of sunflower oil,
the result for the impact categories EP and land use is higher
than that for the other two margarines, in spite of their higher fat
contents of 60% and 70% (see Fig. 3).
5 Conclusions
The margarine products analysed here are more environ-
mentally favourable for the specified impact categories than
the equivalent butter products. In all three markets (UK, DE
and FR) margarine products are significantly better than
butter products for the impact categories: Global warming
potential, eutrophication potential and acidification poten-
tial. Also primary energy use and land occupation are less
for margarine than butter, though not as significant as for
the other impact categories. These findings are also valid
when comparing margarine and butter between the markets;
for this reason they are likely to be of general relevance for
other Western European countries where similar margarine
and butter production systems are found.
An extensive sensitivity analysis was performed, showing
that the results are robust, particularly for GWP, EP and AP.
However, for primary energy where the difference between
margarine and butter was less pronounced in the base case,
this difference was partially eroded when the FU was changed
or when an alternative allocation method was used.
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926 Int J Life Cycle Assess (2010) 15:916926
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The production of dairy products generates several environmental impacts, and life cycle assessment (LCA) is a useful methodology to quantify and understand those impacts. In Brazil, some traditional dairy products have not yet been evaluated using the LCA methodology. Based on this gap, we conducted a cradle-to-gate LCA of six dairy products from a plant in Minas Gerais, Brazil. We also performed two sensitivity analyses. The first analysis was on how the environmental profiles of the products changed depending on how the multifunctional processes were allocated. The second analysis evaluated how these changes in environmental profiles occurred depending on the way that the impacts were allocated to products and by-products (whey and buttermilk) produced within the dairy factory. Among the dairy products studied, the impacts of mozzarella cheese and butter substantially surpassed those of other products; cheese spread and dulce de leche had a similar impact; and yoghurt and milk had the lowest values for the impact categories that were assessed. The inclusion of by-products in the analysis proved to be an effective way to reduce the environmental impacts attributed to the dairy products, especially for cheese and cheese spread, the impact values of which decreased by 56% and 46%, respectively. Additionally, the use of different strategies to deal with the multifunctional processes significantly affected the impact results of the dairy products. The subdivision of processes combined with causal allocation was the best alternative as opposed to the allocation by milk solids. These results could offer a better understanding of the environmental profiles of dairy products from Brazil, especially the traditional products, such as dulce de leche and cheese spread. Other contributions of this study include the proposal of alternatives that could improve the environmental profiles of products (such as the processing of by-products and the questioning of the use of allocation according to milk solids, which have been commonly used in other life cycle assessment studies) and the proposal of a better method for assessing the environmental impacts of dairy products.
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Background Globally, climate change is a challenge for the dairy sector and its effects are expected to have important consequences on the environmental performance of the dairy products value chains. At the same time, this sector significantly contributes to global warming and other environmental impacts. Scope and approach This paper addresses this twin challenge from a life cycle perspective, i.e. covering from dairy farms, dairy factory, distribution and retail, to consumption. To do so, literature reviews were done on the contribution of the sector to climate change and on the biophysical impacts of climate change on the dairy sector in the near term in Europe. Both reviews were linked to qualitatively analyse the interaction and connect in a matrix the biophysical impacts caused by the effects of climate change on the environmental performance of the sector. Key findings and conclusions Not surprisingly, dairy farms were identified as the major contributor to the total greenhouse gas emissions across the dairy value chains but also as the most vulnerable stage to climate change. Depending on the region, the dairy sector will face opportunities but also threats such as significant cows' heat stress, crop cultivation variability, on-farm water availability, cows' diseases, crop pests' pressure and product safety risk, which is associated with product losses and waste. Measures will be needed to mitigate them but with an environmental cost. The clear definition of the dairy sector-climate change interaction is the starting point to begin preparing this sector for a near-future under climate change conditions.
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See https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2F0-306-48055-7.pdf or http://www.cml.leiden.edu/research/industrialecology/researchprojects/finished/new-dutch-lca-guide.html for consulting the contents of this book
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Background, Aims and Scope Allocation is required when quantifying environmental impacts of individual products from multi-product manufacturing plants. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recommends in ISO 14041 that allocation should reflect underlying physical relationships between inputs and outputs, or in the absence of such knowledge, allocation should reflect other relationships (e.g. economic value). Economic allocation is generally recommended if process specific information on the manufacturing process is lacking. In this paper, a physico-chemical allocation matrix, based on industry-specific data from the dairy industry, is developed and discussed as an alternative allocation method. Methods Operational data from 17 dairy manufacturing plants was used to develop an industry specific physico-chemical allocation matrix. Through an extensive process of substraction/substitution, it is possible to determine average resource use (e.g. electricity, thermal energy, water, etc) and wastewater emissions for individual dairy products within multi-product manufacturing plants. The average operational data for individual products were normalised to maintain industry confidentiality and then used as an industry specific allocation matrix. The quantity of raw milk required per product is based on the milk solids basis to account for dairy by-products that would otherwise be neglected. Results and Discussion Applying fixed type allocation methods (e.g. economic) for all input and outputs based on the quantity of product introduces order of magnitude sized deviations from physico-chemical allocation in some cases. The error associated with the quality of the whole of factory plant data or truncation error associated with setting system boundaries is insignificant in comparison. The profound effects of the results on systems analysis are discussed. The results raise concerns about using economic allocation as a default when allocating intra-industry sectoral flows (i.e. mass and process energy) in the absence of detailed technical information. It is recommended that economic allocation is better suited as a default for reflecting inter-industry sectoral flows. Conclusion The study highlights the importance of accurate causal allocation procedures that reflect industry-specific production methods. Generation of industry-specific allocation matrices is possible through a process of substitution/subtraction and optimisation. Allocation using such matrices overcomes the inherit bias of mass, process energy or price allocations for a multi-product manufacturing plant and gives a more realistic indication of resource use or emissions per product. The approach appears to be advantageous for resource use or emissions allocation if data is only available on a whole of factory basis for several plants with a similar level of technology. Recommendation and Perspective The industry specific allocation matrix approach will assist with allocation in multi-product LCAs where the level of technology in an industry is similar. The matrix will also benefit dairy manufacturing companies and help them more accurately allocate resources and impacts (i.e. costs) to different products within the one plant. It is recommended that similar physico-chemical allocation matrices be developed for other industry sectors with a view of ultimately coupling them with input-output analysis.