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Agave distillates, such as tequila and mezcal, are alcoholic spirits representative of Mexican culture. In recent years, the demand for mezcal has increased, and with it the requirement for raw materials, bringing with it a series of difficulties. The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential environmental impact and energy demand of the production of young craft mezcal from an endemic agave (Agave cupreata) found in the central and southern Pacific area of Mexico. The potential environmental impact of the mezcal studied was obtained through the life cycle analysis methodology using a midpoint approach by the ReCiPe method to calculate the potential environmental impact with SimaPro software (version 8.2.3.0., PRé Sustainability, Amersfoort, The Netherlands). The functional unit is a young craft mezcal bottle of 750 mL with 46% Vol. Alc. The stage of highest contribution to the environmental impact of mezcal was the manufacturing/processing, contributing 59.6% of them. The energy demand of the craft mezcal resulted in 163.8 MJ/bottle of 7.5 dl. The kg CO2eq in mezcal (1.7) is higher than beer (0.63) or white wine (1.01), but lower than whisky (2.25) or pisco (3.62). These findings could allow the search for alternatives for the development of sustainable production.
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sustainability
Article
Life Cycle Environmental Impacts and Energy
Demand of Craft Mezcal in Mexico
Jazmín Maciel Martínez 1, Eduardo Baltierra-Trejo 2, Paul Taboada-González 3,
Quetzalli Aguilar-Virgen 3and Liliana Marquez-Benavides 4,*
1National School of High Studies Morelia, National Autonomous University of Mexico Campus Morelia,
Morelia 58190, Mexico; jazmaciel@live.com.mx
2Remediation Laboratory, Academic Division of Biological Sciences, CONACYT—Juarez Autonomous
University of Tabasco, Tabasco 86150, Mexico; eduardo.baltierra@conacyt.mx
3Faculty of Chemical Sciences and Engineering, Autonomous University of Baja California, Tijuana 22390,
Mexico; ptaboada@uabc.edu.mx (P.T.-G.); qaguilar@uabc.edu.mx (Q.A.-V.)
4Solid Waste and Energy Eciency Group, Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Research, Michoacan
University of Saint Nicholas of Hidalgo, Morelia 58000, Mexico
*Correspondence: liliana.marquez@umich.mx; Tel.: +52-443-334-0475 (ext. 116)
Received: 7 September 2020; Accepted: 2 October 2020; Published: 7 October 2020


Abstract:
Agave distillates, such as tequila and mezcal, are alcoholic spirits representative of Mexican
culture. In recent years, the demand for mezcal has increased, and with it the requirement for raw
materials, bringing with it a series of diculties. The objective of this study was to evaluate the
potential environmental impact and energy demand of the production of young craft mezcal from an
endemic agave (Agave cupreata) found in the central and southern Pacific area of Mexico. The potential
environmental impact of the mezcal studied was obtained through the life cycle analysis methodology
using a midpoint approach by the ReCiPe method to calculate the potential environmental impact with
SimaPro software (version 8.2.3.0., PR
é
Sustainability, Amersfoort, The Netherlands). The functional
unit is a young craft mezcal bottle of 750 mL with 46% Vol. Alc. The stage of highest contribution to
the environmental impact of mezcal was the manufacturing/processing, contributing 59.6% of them.
The energy demand of the craft mezcal resulted in 163.8 MJ/bottle of 7.5 dl. The kg CO
2
eq in mezcal
(1.7) is higher than beer (0.63) or white wine (1.01), but lower than whisky (2.25) or pisco (3.62). These
findings could allow the search for alternatives for the development of sustainable production.
Keywords: mezcal; craft alcoholic beverage; spirit drink; distilled spirit; agave cupreata
1. Introduction
Mezcal and tequila are distilled agave spirit drinks representative of Mexican culture. Linked to
the global expansion of tequila, mezcal has increased in popularity in recent years. The production of
this drink grew by 79% compared to 2017, bottling 7.14 million litres by 2019 [1].
In the specific case of the mezcal beverage, several states of Mexico, including Oaxaca, Durango,
Guerrero, Michoacan, Puebla, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas, have protected
the designation of origin (PDO) “Mezcal” [
1
]. However, both raw materials and production practices
dier noticeably between production regions, localities, and even factories, resulting in a set of highly
distinctive products [
2
]. The mezcal production process, in general terms, begins with the cultivation
of agave which can be of wild origin, semi-cultivated, or cultivated. Once the agaves are ripe, the
leaves are cut, leaving what is known as the piña (succulent core). Only the piña of the agave plant is
used to make mezcal. These piñas are baked, ground, and fermented. The product obtained from the
ethyl fermentation is known as must, which is distilled to separate the residues and obtain the mezcal
(Figure 1).
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242; doi:10.3390/su12198242 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 2 of 17
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 2 of 17
product obtained from the ethyl fermentation is known as must, which is distilled to separate the
residues and obtain the mezcal (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Mezcal production.
The regulation for mezcal production [3] declares certain categories according to the machinery,
equipment, or infrastructure used in each production process. These range from industrialized
production to craft production or even ancestral. In the same way, the classes of young or white
mezcal are established: matured in glass, rested, aged, flared or distilled according to the process
carried out after the distillation.
The increase of interest in mezcal has involved, as with tequila, several problems. Some authors
pointed to the shortage of wild agave [4], overproduction of maguey [5], pests in plants [6], and even
inappropriate waste management [7], both solid and vinasse, which are the residual liquids of
distilling the fermented must [6]. The residual liquid effluents or stillage are classified as a polluting
product because they are disposed of at temperatures close to 90 °C, with a pH lower than 5.0 and a
high chemical oxygen demand (COD) (50–150 g O2/L) [8]. By placing the stillage on the ground, the
suspended solids cause a decrease in permeability, obstructing the pores of the soil [9].
In response to the problem of scarcity of raw materials in the agave–mezcal product system,
sustainable practices have been proposed, focused mainly on the production of agave. For example,
agroforestry management [10,11], the selection of potential areas for agave plantations [12], and even
assisted plant reforestation programs, wet nurses, and agaves [13]. To reduce the problem of waste
in the production of mezcal, studies have been carried out on the production of tiles made from a bio
composite material, bagasse [14], and the production of biofuels through a treatment of bagasse [15]
and adobes reinforced with agave fibre in Oaxaca [16].
The efforts made to solve the problems of mezcal, to date, have focused on specific stages of the
production chain of said drink. However, there are still no reports that describe the environmental
impact of mezcal production with a life cycle approach or indicators on the energy performance of
the process.
There are several studies on the environmental impact of alcoholic beverages approached from
the methodology of life cycle assessment (LCA), including wine and beer production in the UK
[17,18], Spanish wine [19,20], whisky in Sweden [21], and Peruvian pisco [22], where the greatest
impact comes from the agricultural stage. On the other hand, other LCA studies analysing alcoholic
beverages point out that the main impact corresponds to the glass bottle production, as in the case of
red wine in Catalonia, Spain [23] or white wine in Sardinia, Italy [24]. There is, however, a lack of life
cycle perspective in the production stage of drinks obtained by distilling agave plants such as tequila
Figure 1. Mezcal production.
The regulation for mezcal production [
3
] declares certain categories according to the machinery,
equipment, or infrastructure used in each production process. These range from industrialized
production to craft production or even ancestral. In the same way, the classes of young or white mezcal
are established: matured in glass, rested, aged, flared or distilled according to the process carried out
after the distillation.
The increase of interest in mezcal has involved, as with tequila, several problems. Some authors
pointed to the shortage of wild agave [
4
], overproduction of maguey [
5
], pests in plants [
6
], and even
inappropriate waste management [
7
], both solid and vinasse, which are the residual liquids of distilling
the fermented must [
6
]. The residual liquid euents or stillage are classified as a polluting product
because they are disposed of at temperatures close to 90
C, with a pH lower than 5.0 and a high chemical
oxygen demand (COD) (50–150 g O
2
/L) [
8
]. By placing the stillage on the ground, the suspended solids
cause a decrease in permeability, obstructing the pores of the soil [9].
In response to the problem of scarcity of raw materials in the agave–mezcal product system,
sustainable practices have been proposed, focused mainly on the production of agave. For example,
agroforestry management [
10
,
11
], the selection of potential areas for agave plantations [
12
], and even
assisted plant reforestation programs, wet nurses, and agaves [
13
]. To reduce the problem of waste in
the production of mezcal, studies have been carried out on the production of tiles made from a bio
composite material, bagasse [
14
], and the production of biofuels through a treatment of bagasse [
15
]
and adobes reinforced with agave fibre in Oaxaca [16].
The eorts made to solve the problems of mezcal, to date, have focused on specific stages of the
production chain of said drink. However, there are still no reports that describe the environmental
impact of mezcal production with a life cycle approach or indicators on the energy performance of
the process.
There are several studies on the environmental impact of alcoholic beverages approached from
the methodology of life cycle assessment (LCA), including wine and beer production in the UK [
17
,
18
],
Spanish wine [
19
,
20
], whisky in Sweden [
21
], and Peruvian pisco [
22
], where the greatest impact comes
from the agricultural stage. On the other hand, other LCA studies analysing alcoholic beverages
point out that the main impact corresponds to the glass bottle production, as in the case of red wine
in Catalonia, Spain [
23
] or white wine in Sardinia, Italy [
24
]. There is, however, a lack of life cycle
perspective in the production stage of drinks obtained by distilling agave plants such as tequila or
mezcal. To the best of the author’s knowledge, no previous published studies are available that
investigate impacts from a life cycle perspective.
On the other hand, Pimentel [
25
] points out that 25% of the world’s fossil energy is used to
produce food. The operation of current agro-ecosystems is based on two energy flows: the natural one
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 3 of 17
corresponding to solar energy and an “auxiliary” flow, controlled by the farmer who resorts to the
use of fossil fuels, either directly or indirectly, through the industrial inputs used in the production
process. In addition to agro-ecosystems, studies have been carried out to find out the energy demand
in other areas such as production processes. In the case of alcoholic beverages such as whisky [
21
],
their primary energy consumption or energy obtained from either direct sources or combustible ones
corresponded to 57.3 MJ/750 mL bottle (the energy equivalent of 1.63 L of gasoline). Olajire [
26
]
mentions that a well-run brewery would use 1.125 MJ/750 mL of beer produced (the equivalent of
0.032 L of gasoline). In the case of agave distillates such as tequila or mezcal, this information was
scarce within the bibliographic search carried out by the authors.
The present work evaluated the production of Agave cupreata mezcal in a vinata (the place where
agave is processed to obtain a non-industrialized mezcal) of the community of Etucuaro. It is a drink of
the artisan category, that is to say, it uses ancestral equipment and is of low technology in its production.
It is classified as young because it is not subject to any type of post-distillation process, resulting in a
colourless and translucent product [
3
]. The objective of the study was to identify the critical points
of environmental impact from the point of view of LCA and to calculate the energy demand of the
product including direct and indirect energy in order to calculate the productivity of the process.
This information will serve as a basis for finding alternatives that increase the productivity of inputs
and reduce the impact on the environment by improving the sustainable development of the activity.
2. Materials and Methods
The study evaluates two aspects of the craft mezcal production chain. First the information related
to the LCA is shown and then the calculation of the energy demand. For both aspects the same stages
and processes of mezcal production were taken.
2.1. Study Zone
The selected zone was Etucuaro, municipality of Madero, Michoacan de Ocampo, Mexico (Figure 2).
The municipality is bordered to the north by Morelia, the state capital. According to National Institute
of Statistics and Geography (NISG) [
27
], luvisol (38%) and regosol (35%) soils predominate in the
municipality. The climates that predominate are semi-warm and temperate sub humid (33 and 27%
respectively) with rainfall ranging from 800 to 1300 mm. Its vegetation is mainly composed of forest
(82%) with low use of agricultural (6%) and urban land (0.17%). Most of the population (54%) is
dedicated to primary activities [28].
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 3 of 17
or mezcal. To the best of the author’s knowledge, no previous published studies are available that
investigate impacts from a life cycle perspective.
On the other hand, Pimentel [25] points out that 25% of the world’s fossil energy is used to
produce food. The operation of current agro-ecosystems is based on two energy flows: the natural
one corresponding to solar energy and an “auxiliary” flow, controlled by the farmer who resorts to
the use of fossil fuels, either directly or indirectly, through the industrial inputs used in the
production process. In addition to agro-ecosystems, studies have been carried out to find out the
energy demand in other areas such as production processes. In the case of alcoholic beverages such
as whisky [21], their primary energy consumption or energy obtained from either direct sources or
combustible ones corresponded to 57.3 MJ/ 750 mL bottle (the energy equivalent of 1.63 L of
gasoline). Olajire [26] mentions that a well-run brewery would use 1.125 MJ/ 750 mL of beer
produced (the equivalent of 0.032 L of gasoline). In the case of agave distillates such as tequila or
mezcal, this information was scarce within the bibliographic search carried out by the authors.
The present work evaluated the production of Agave cupreata mezcal in a vinata (the place
where agave is processed to obtain a non-industrialized mezcal) of the community of Etucuaro. It is
a drink of the artisan category, that is to say, it uses ancestral equipment and is of low technology in
its production. It is classified as young because it is not subject to any type of post-distillation
process, resulting in a colourless and translucent product [3]. The objective of the study was to
identify the critical points of environmental impact from the point of view of LCA and to calculate
the energy demand of the product including direct and indirect energy in order to calculate the
productivity of the process. This information will serve as a basis for finding alternatives that
increase the productivity of inputs and reduce the impact on the environment by improving the
sustainable development of the activity.
2. Materials and Methods
The study evaluates two aspects of the craft mezcal production chain. First the information
related to the LCA is shown and then the calculation of the energy demand. For both aspects the
same stages and processes of mezcal production were taken.
2.1. Study Zone
The selected zone was Etucuaro, municipality of Madero, Michoacan de Ocampo, Mexico
(Figure 2). The municipality is bordered to the north by Morelia, the state capital. According to
National Institute of Statistics and Geography (NISG) [27], luvisol (38%) and regosol (35%) soils
predominate in the municipality. The climates that predominate are semi-warm and temperate sub
humid (33 and 27% respectively) with rainfall ranging from 800 to 1300 mm. Its vegetation is mainly
composed of forest (82%) with low use of agricultural (6%) and urban land (0.17%). Most of the
population (54%) is dedicated to primary activities [28].
Figure 2. Study zone [29].
Figure 2. Study zone [29].
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 4 of 17
2.2. Definition of the Scope and Objectives of the Craft Mezcal Life Cycle
2.2.1. Goal
Identify the critical points of environmental impact in the craft mezcal production chain under
the LCA methodology.
2.2.2. Scope
The present study included everything from obtaining raw materials (cradle) to the end of life
or waste disposal (grave) as shown in Figure 3. The data for the system analysis were collected
directly in the field by the authors and correspond to the production of a young mezcal batch in 2017.
The analysis was performed under the ReCiPe method to calculate the potential environmental impact
using Simapro software (version 8.2.3.0., PR
é
Sustainability, Amersfoort, The Netherlands). The impact
categories evaluated for the analysis were those considered mid-point by the ReCiPe method, although
the results only express those considered significant, that is, when they represent more than 75% of
potential impact.
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 4 of 17
2.2. Definition of the Scope and Objectives of the Craft Mezcal Life Cycle
2.2.1. Goal
Identify the critical points of environmental impact in the craft mezcal production chain under
the LCA methodology
2.2.2. Scope
The present study included everything from obtaining raw materials (cradle) to the end of life
or waste disposal (grave) as shown in Figure 3. The data for the system analysis were collected
directly in the field by the authors and correspond to the production of a young mezcal batch in
2017. The analysis was performed under the ReCiPe method to calculate the potential environmental
impact using Simapro software (version 8.2.3.0., PRé Sustainability, Amersfoort, The Netherlands).
The impact categories evaluated for the analysis were those considered mid-point by the ReCiPe
method, although the results only express those considered significant, that is, when they represent
more than 75% of potential impact.
Figure 3. System limits of craft mezcal production.
The functional unit (FU) is a young craft mezcal bottle of 750 mL with 46% Vol. Alc. made from
a vinata in Etucuaro, Michoacan. The stages of the production process studied were: (1) obtaining
raw material, (2) manufacturing/ processing, (3) blending and distribution, and (4) end of life.
In the analysis, it was considered that obtaining raw materials takes approximately seven years,
from the germination of the seed until the agave reaches sexual maturity and is harvested just before
flowering, when the sugar concentration is at its maximum [30]. The agave used for mezcal
production was semi-cultivated, remaining three years in the nursery and four years in the wild. The
processing stage together with the packaging stage lasts approximately two months. For the cooking
of the agave hearts, it was identified that oak firewood obtained from the region is used because it
provides organoleptic properties to the mezcal, while the double distillation uses residual wood
obtained from a nearby lumber warehouse. For the milling, the inputs used by the tractor are
included, but the impact of the manufacture of the equipment is not. Since data were collected in
2017, mezcal production was governed by the indications of NOM-070-SCFI-1994 [31], which
allowed the production of type I mezcal with 100% agave sugars and type II which allows up to 20%
use of other carbohydrates. The studied vinata produced type II mezcal, and sugarcane was added.
Currently, the NOM-070-SCFI-2016 [3] is in force, which only allows the production of 100% agave
mezcal. For the end of life, a landfill scenario was considered due it being the final disposal site for
Figure 3. System limits of craft mezcal production.
The functional unit (FU) is a young craft mezcal bottle of 750 mL with 46% Vol. Alc. made from a
vinata in Etucuaro, Michoacan. The stages of the production process studied were: (1) obtaining raw
material, (2) manufacturing/processing, (3) blending and distribution, and (4) end of life.
In the analysis, it was considered that obtaining raw materials takes approximately seven years,
from the germination of the seed until the agave reaches sexual maturity and is harvested just before
flowering, when the sugar concentration is at its maximum [
30
]. The agave used for mezcal production
was semi-cultivated, remaining three years in the nursery and four years in the wild. The processing
stage together with the packaging stage lasts approximately two months. For the cooking of the
agave hearts, it was identified that oak firewood obtained from the region is used because it provides
organoleptic properties to the mezcal, while the double distillation uses residual wood obtained from a
nearby lumber warehouse. For the milling, the inputs used by the tractor are included, but the impact
of the manufacture of the equipment is not. Since data were collected in 2017, mezcal production was
governed by the indications of NOM-070-SCFI-1994 [
31
], which allowed the production of type I mezcal
with 100% agave sugars and type II which allows up to 20% use of other carbohydrates. The studied
vinata produced type II mezcal, and sugarcane was added. Currently, the NOM-070-SCFI-2016 [
3
] is in
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 5 of 17
force, which only allows the production of 100% agave mezcal. For the end of life, a landfill scenario
was considered due it being the final disposal site for 78.5% of the waste in Mexico [
32
]. It includes the
transport used in production from obtaining raw materials to the distribution of the final product.
The purchase of agave in the stage of obtaining raw materials was not considered for the present
analysis, neither was the recycling of waste in the end of life stage because it only represents the
destiny of 9.6% of the waste in Mexico [
32
]. The potential impact of the production of machinery,
equipment, or infrastructure in the craft mezcal category (the oven for cooking, the tractor for grinding,
the fermentation vats, the type or material of the stills) was not included. Transport used after the
distribution of the final product was not considered either because the location of the final consumer
and the distance between the consumer and the waste disposal site is unknown.
2.3. Types of Mezcal Considering in the Study
Craft Mezcal Type II: This is the product obtained from the distillation and rectification of
musts whose formulation are up to 20% of other carbohydrates allowed by the corresponding legal
provisions [31].
Craft Mezcal: The formulation consists of 100% agave. The cooking of agave is in a floor oven,
stone or masonry. The traditional equipment used for milling uses human strength or power tools.
The distillation is with direct fire in copper stills, clay pot, or stainless steel, and the process can include
the maguey fibre (bagasse) [3].
Ancestral mezcal. The production is in a rustic way with a 100% agave formulation. The cooking
of agave is in a conical oven on the floor (earth). For milling, is used only the force of man or animals
without electrical tools. The distillation only uses direct fire in the clay pots and must include the fibre
of the maguey (bagasse) [
3
]. The price of this type of mezcal is higher compared to a craft mezcal.
This because of the losses in the process and the added value of being made manually.
2.4. Life Cycle Inventory Analysis
The inventory considered the system inputs and outputs by production stage required per FU
(Table 1). The raw materials included the agrochemicals and water used, the inputs required to
prepare the soil for transplanting, the equipment for harvesting the agave stems (also called hearts),
and the transport from the field to the vinata (three trips). Inputs for cooking, milling, fermentation,
and distillation were included in the processing. The blending and distribution of the final product
considered a 750 mL transparent glass bottle, label and screw cap assembled by hand, for distribution
a trip was considered to cover the delivery route. The end-of-life scenario was the disposal of waste in
a landfill.
Table 1. Life cycle inventory.
Obtaining Raw Material
Inputs from Nature Amount per FU * Unit Description
Occupation, unspecified, natural 4.1 ×106ha Land
Water, fresh 1.05 m3Water
Inputs from Technosphere Amount per FU * Unit Description
Grass seed, organic, for sowing {RoW}|production|Alloc Def, U 2×103kg Seeds
Ammonium sulphate, as N {RoW}|ammonium sulphate production
|Alloc Def, U 3×103kg Fertiliser
Glyphosate {RoW}|production|Alloc Def, U 7×102kg Herbicide
Pesticide, unspecified {RoW}|production|Alloc Def, U 7.8 ×103kg Insecticide
Transport, freight, lorry 3.5–7.5 metric ton, EURO3 {GLO}|market
for|Alloc Def, U 5.68 ×102t/km Transport
Electricity, low voltage {CZ}|electricity voltage transformation from
medium to low voltage|Alloc Def, U 2.2 ×103kWh Energy
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 6 of 17
Table 1. Cont.
Final Waste Flow Amount per FU * Unit Description
Packaging waste, plastic 1.62 ×102kg Plastic bottles
Waste, organic 3×103t Agave leaves
Manufacturing/Processing
Inputs from Nature Amount per FU * Unit Description
Water, river, MX 2.54 ×102m3Water
Inputs from Technosphere Amount per FU * Unit Description
Forest residue, processed and loaded, at landing system/ton/RNA 2.4 ×103t Firewood
Diesel, burned in building machine {GLO}|market for|Alloc Def, U 13.26 ×102MJ Energy
Electricity, low voltage {MX}|electricity voltage transformation from
medium to low voltage|Alloc Def, U 6×103kWh Electricity
Transport, freight, lorry 3.5–7.5 metric ton, EURO3 {RER}|transport,
freight, lorry 3.5–7.5 metric ton, EURO3|Alloc Def, U 14.65 ×102t/km Transport
Sugar, from sugarcane {GLO}|market for|Alloc Def, U 1×103t Sugar
Residual wood, dry {GLO}|market for|Alloc Def, U 5×103t Wood
Final Waste Flow Amount per FU * Unit Description
Wood ashes 1×104t Ashes
Wastewater/m31.65 ×102m3Residual water
Packaging waste, plastic 5.96 ×106kg Plastic bottles
Waste, organic 11 ×103tVinasses and
bagasse
Blending and Distribution
Inputs from Technosphere Amount per FU * Unit Description
Packaging glass, white {GLO}|market for|Alloc Def, U 3×104t Bottle
Polypropylene, granulate {GLO}|market for|Alloc Def, U 2.65 ×106t PP screw cap
Polypropylene, granulate {GLO}|market for|Alloc Def, U 5.96 ×107t Paper tag
Corrugated board boxes, technology mix, prod. mix, 16.6% primary
fibre, 83.4% recycled fibre EU-25 S 2.45 ×105t Cardboard box
Transport, freight, lorry 3.5–7.5 metric ton, EURO3 {GLO}|market
for|Alloc Def, U 4.73 ×102t/km Transport
End of Life
Inputs from Technosphere Amount per FU * Unit Description
Packaging glass, white {GLO}|market for|Alloc Def, U 3×104t Bottle
Polypropylene, granulate {GLO}|market for|Alloc Def, U 2.65 ×106t PP screw cap
Printed paper {GLO}|market for|Alloc Def, U 5.96 ×107t Paper tag
Corrugated board boxes, technology mix, prod. mix, 16.6 % primary
fibre, 83.4 % recycled fibre EU-25 S 2.45 ×105t Carton box
Final Waste Flow Amount per FU * Unit Description
Wastewater/m31.643 ×102m3Residual water
Waste, organic 1.458 ×102t Organic waste
Wood ashes 1×104t Ashes
Packaging waste, plastic 1×105kg Plastic bottles
Note: * FU: 750 mL bottle of 46% volume of alcohol.
2.5. Energy Demand of Craft Mezcal Production
The energy demand of a production process is the energy used to create a production unit (kg, L,
bottle, piece, among others). For the calculation of the total energy demand in the production of craft
mezcal, the same FU was taken as for the LCA, and therefore the same stages apply. Direct and indirect
energy sources were considered for each production stage. Energy equivalence data for inputs were
obtained from literature reviews plus our own calculations from these or field data (Table 2). For some
data such as firewood or wood, polypropylene (PP) and cardboard, the calorific potential was used,
as well as own calculations. In the processing stage, the agave input was no longer included in the
calculation to avoid double counting, because it was the result of the raw material stage.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 7 of 17
Table 2. Energy equivalence of inputs for craft mezcal production by stage.
Obtaining Raw Materials
Inputs Unit Energy Equivalence
(MJ/Unit *) References
Adult agave kg 8.11 This report
Human work h 1.96 Mandal et al. [33]
Chainsaw h 4.3 Technical data sheet
Gasoline transport kg 32.4 Rivera et al. [34]
Chemicals
Fertiliser (ammonium sulphate CAS:
7783-20-2) kg 45 Audesley et al. [35]
Herbicide (rival CAS number:
1071-83-6) kg 238 Gündogmus [36]
Pesticide (cypermethrin CAS
number: 52315-07-8) kg 199 Gündogmus [36]
Water m30.63 Yilmaz et al. [37]
Barley seeds kg 14.7 Ziaei et al. [38]
Manufacturing/Processing
Inputs Unit Energy Equivalence
(MJ/Unit *) References
Agave hearts
piece
4.31 This report
Human work h 1.96 Mandal et al. [33]
Tractor/mechanical mills MJ 185.4 Technical data sheet
Gasoline transport kg 32.4 Ecoinvent 2010 from Rivera et al. [34]
Diesel transport L 56.31 Mohammadi and Omid [39]
Electric power kWh 3.6
Firewood and wood t 14486 SENER [40]
Water m30.63 Yilmaz et al. [37]
Sugar t 3083.3 Vu et al. [41]
Blending
Inputs Unit Energy Equivalence
(MJ/Unit *) References
Bottles
bottles
8.5 Gazulla et al. [20]
PP screw cap kg 44 Arandes-Esteban et al. [42]
Paper tag t 16.5 SENER [40]
Cardboard box t 14.5 SENER [40]
Note: * The unit is the one represented for each input.
From the total energy demand used and the total product produced, the specific energy (SE)
(Equation (1)) and the energy productivity (EP) (Equation (2) were calculated, which represent the
relationship between a product and the energy invested in a production process, valued in megajoules
(MJ) [43].
SE =Energy used (MJ)
Product produced (unit f or measurement)(1)
EP =Product produced (unit f or measurement)
Energy used (MJ)(2)
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Environmental Impact Assessment of Craft Mezcal Production
Table 3shows the percentage of environmental impact contribution by each stage of the production
process of a 750 mL bottle of young craft mezcal (46% Vol. Alc.), compared to two other similar categories
in the current standard (NOM-070-SCFI-2016). The category “mezcal” is usually industrialized,
so comparing these results was not considered. In all three categories, the stages with the greatest
environmental impact were manufacturing/processing and obtaining raw materials. The use of sugar
in type II mezcal generated changes in the distribution of the impact of the process stages, unlike the
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 8 of 17
use of mechanical mills which did not represent a substantial change in the environmental impact of
the process.
Table 3.
Percentages of potential impact contribution by production stage in various mezcal categories.
Production Stage
Mezcal Category
Craft Mezcal Type II * Craft Mezcal ** Ancestral Mezcal **
Percentages (%)
Obtaining Raw Materials
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 8 of 17
3.1. Environmental Impact Assessment of Craft Mezcal Production
Table 3 shows the percentage of environmental impact contribution by each stage of the
production process of a 750 mL bottle of young craft mezcal (46% Vol. Alc.), compared to two other
similar categories in the current standard (NOM-070-SCFI-2016). The category “mezcal” is usually
industrialized, so comparing these results was not considered. In all three categories, the stages with
the greatest environmental impact were manufacturing/processing and obtaining raw materials. The
use of sugar in type II mezcal generated changes in the distribution of the impact of the process
stages, unlike the use of mechanical mills which did not represent a substantial change in the
environmental impact of the process.
Table 3. Percentages of potential impact contribution by production stage in various mezcal
categories.
Production Stage
Mezcal Category
Craft Mezcal Type II * Craft Mezcal ** Ancestral Mezcal **
Percentages (%)
Obtaining Raw Materials
19.7 28.7 28.8
Manufacturing/Processing
59.6 37.8 37.4
Blending and Distribution
10.1 17.2 17.3
End of Life
10.2 16.4 16.5
Notes: * Mezcal made under NOM-070-SCFI-1994; ** mezcal made under NOM-070-SCFI-2016.
Table 4 indicates the categories of environmental impact that were significant with a value
greater than 75% in the production of mezcal for the stages of obtaining raw materials and
manufacturing/processing. In type II craft mezcal, the use of sugar provides three additional impact
categories regarding the category of craft and ancestral mezcal in manufacturing/processing stage.
On the other hand, in the raw materials stage, it has the lowest percentage regarding the
contribution of water depletion at 86.5%.
Table 4. Contribution by significant * impact category in various mezcal categories.
Impact Category
Craft Mezcal Type II Craft Mezcal Ancestral Mezcal
RM M RM M RM M
Contribution Percentage (%)
19.7 28.7 28.8
Manufacturing/Processing
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 8 of 17
3.1. Environmental Impact Assessment of Craft Mezcal Production
Table 3 shows the percentage of environmental impact contribution by each stage of the
production process of a 750 mL bottle of young craft mezcal (46% Vol. Alc.), compared to two other
similar categories in the current standard (NOM-070-SCFI-2016). The category “mezcal” is usually
industrialized, so comparing these results was not considered. In all three categories, the stages with
the greatest environmental impact were manufacturing/processing and obtaining raw materials. The
use of sugar in type II mezcal generated changes in the distribution of the impact of the process
stages, unlike the use of mechanical mills which did not represent a substantial change in the
environmental impact of the process.
Table 3. Percentages of potential impact contribution by production stage in various mezcal
categories.
Production Stage
Mezcal Category
Craft Mezcal Type II * Craft Mezcal ** Ancestral Mezcal **
Percentages (%)
Obtaining Raw Materials
19.7 28.7 28.8
Manufacturing/Processing
59.6 37.8 37.4
Blending and Distribution
10.1 17.2 17.3
End of Life
10.2 16.4 16.5
Notes: * Mezcal made under NOM-070-SCFI-1994; ** mezcal made under NOM-070-SCFI-2016.
Table 4 indicates the categories of environmental impact that were significant with a value
greater than 75% in the production of mezcal for the stages of obtaining raw materials and
manufacturing/processing. In type II craft mezcal, the use of sugar provides three additional impact
categories regarding the category of craft and ancestral mezcal in manufacturing/processing stage.
On the other hand, in the raw materials stage, it has the lowest percentage regarding the
contribution of water depletion at 86.5%.
Table 4. Contribution by significant * impact category in various mezcal categories.
Impact Category
Craft Mezcal Type II Craft Mezcal Ancestral Mezcal
RM M RM M RM M
Contribution Percentage (%)
59.6 37.8 37.4
Blending and Distribution
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 8 of 17
3.1. Environmental Impact Assessment of Craft Mezcal Production
Table 3 shows the percentage of environmental impact contribution by each stage of the
production process of a 750 mL bottle of young craft mezcal (46% Vol. Alc.), compared to two other
similar categories in the current standard (NOM-070-SCFI-2016). The category “mezcal” is usually
industrialized, so comparing these results was not considered. In all three categories, the stages with
the greatest environmental impact were manufacturing/processing and obtaining raw materials. The
use of sugar in type II mezcal generated changes in the distribution of the impact of the process
stages, unlike the use of mechanical mills which did not represent a substantial change in the
environmental impact of the process.
Table 3. Percentages of potential impact contribution by production stage in various mezcal
categories.
Production Stage
Mezcal Category
Craft Mezcal Type II * Craft Mezcal ** Ancestral Mezcal **
Percentages (%)
Obtaining Raw Materials
19.7 28.7 28.8
Manufacturing/Processing
59.6 37.8 37.4
Blending and Distribution
10.1 17.2 17.3
End of Life
10.2 16.4 16.5
Notes: * Mezcal made under NOM-070-SCFI-1994; ** mezcal made under NOM-070-SCFI-2016.
Table 4 indicates the categories of environmental impact that were significant with a value
greater than 75% in the production of mezcal for the stages of obtaining raw materials and
manufacturing/processing. In type II craft mezcal, the use of sugar provides three additional impact
categories regarding the category of craft and ancestral mezcal in manufacturing/processing stage.
On the other hand, in the raw materials stage, it has the lowest percentage regarding the
contribution of water depletion at 86.5%.
Table 4. Contribution by significant * impact category in various mezcal categories.
Impact Category
Craft Mezcal Type II Craft Mezcal Ancestral Mezcal
RM M RM M RM M
Contribution Percentage (%)
10.1 17.2 17.3
End of Life
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 8 of 17
3.1. Environmental Impact Assessment of Craft Mezcal Production
Table 3 shows the percentage of environmental impact contribution by each stage of the
production process of a 750 mL bottle of young craft mezcal (46% Vol. Alc.), compared to two other
similar categories in the current standard (NOM-070-SCFI-2016). The category “mezcal” is usually
industrialized, so comparing these results was not considered. In all three categories, the stages with
the greatest environmental impact were manufacturing/processing and obtaining raw materials. The
use of sugar in type II mezcal generated changes in the distribution of the impact of the process
stages, unlike the use of mechanical mills which did not represent a substantial change in the
environmental impact of the process.
Table 3. Percentages of potential impact contribution by production stage in various mezcal
categories.
Production Stage
Mezcal Category
Craft Mezcal Type II * Craft Mezcal ** Ancestral Mezcal **
Percentages (%)
Obtaining Raw Materials
19.7 28.7 28.8
Manufacturing/Processing
59.6 37.8 37.4
Blending and Distribution
10.1 17.2 17.3
End of Life
10.2 16.4 16.5
Notes: * Mezcal made under NOM-070-SCFI-1994; ** mezcal made under NOM-070-SCFI-2016.
Table 4 indicates the categories of environmental impact that were significant with a value
greater than 75% in the production of mezcal for the stages of obtaining raw materials and
manufacturing/processing. In type II craft mezcal, the use of sugar provides three additional impact
categories regarding the category of craft and ancestral mezcal in manufacturing/processing stage.
On the other hand, in the raw materials stage, it has the lowest percentage regarding the
contribution of water depletion at 86.5%.
Table 4. Contribution by significant * impact category in various mezcal categories.
Impact Category
Craft Mezcal Type II Craft Mezcal Ancestral Mezcal
RM M RM M RM M
Contribution Percentage (%)
10.2 16.4 16.5
Notes: * Mezcal made under NOM-070-SCFI-1994; ** mezcal made under NOM-070-SCFI-2016.
Table 4indicates the categories of environmental impact that were significant with a value
greater than 75% in the production of mezcal for the stages of obtaining raw materials and
manufacturing/processing. In type II craft mezcal, the use of sugar provides three additional impact
categories regarding the category of craft and ancestral mezcal in manufacturing/processing stage.
On the other hand, in the raw materials stage, it has the lowest percentage regarding the contribution
of water depletion at 86.5%.
Table 4. Contribution by significant * impact category in various mezcal categories.
Impact Category
Craft Mezcal Type II Craft Mezcal Ancestral Mezcal
RM M RM M RM M
Contribution Percentage (%)
Marine eutrophication 90.2 – – –
Photochemical oxidant
formation – 82.2 – – –
Terrestrial ecotoxicity 99.2 – – –
Agricultural land occupation 95.4 93.9 93.9
Urban land occupation 86.9 85.5 85.5
Natural land transformation 77.8 75.0 75.0
Water depletion 86.5 99.5 99.5
Note: * Value greater than 75% considered to be significant. RM: Raw materials stage, M:
Manufacturing/processing stage.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 9 of 17
Table 5indicates that, for the type II craft mezcal category, in the manufacturing/processing
stage, the processes that presented a greater environmental impact were fermentation and distillation,
contributing 56.3% and 40.9%, respectively. In the alternative mezcal categories, the fermentation
process was less than 5% impact while distillation contributed about 90%. The second stage with the
greatest impact on mezcal production was obtaining raw materials (Table 3). The process that most
contributed to the environmental impact within that stage was the production of young agave plants
(55.8%). This process comprises the germination of the seed to obtain the three-year-old plant, which
can be transplanted in the field.
Table 5.
Contribution percentage of potential impact by processes in two production stages in the
mezcal categories.
Production Stage
Mezcal Category
Craft Mezcal Type II Craft Mezcal Ancestral Mezcal
Percentages (%)
Obtaining raw materials
Young agave plant 55.8
Adult agave 38.8
Agave harvest 5.2
Manufacturing/processing
Cooking 2.2 4.4 4.5
Milling 0.6 1.7 0.09
Fermentation 56.3 3.9 3.9
Distillation 40.9 89.8 91.3
3.2. Interpreting the Potential Impact of Craft Mezcal Production
The stage with the greatest impact on mezcal production in the categories mentioned in Table 3
was manufacturing/processing. In the production of type II craft mezcal, the potential impact of the
manufacturing/processing stage was related to the use of sugarcane. Table 6reveals that within the
fermentation process, the sugarcane input contributed 96% of the environmental impact and had a
representation of more than 95% in 13 of 18 impact categories. For the distillation process, the wood
used contributed 94% of the environmental impact and represented over 95% in 10 of 18 impact
categories. For the young agave plant, the use of the herbicide provided 82% of the environmental
impact and contributed over 95% in 10 of 18 impact categories.
Unlike some LCA studies applied to alcoholic beverages, where their agricultural stage provided
the greatest environmental impact, in the present study it was found that for mezcal the production the
manufacturing/processing stage provides it. For example, Gazulla et al. [
20
] reported that the impact
of their agricultural stage on wine production is due to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by
the use of fertilisers. They found a use of 0.7 kg per year of fertiliser per 750 mL bottle. For mezcal
production, they use 0.003 kg of fertiliser per bottle of the same size, but unlike grapes, agave uses
fertiliser only in the first three years of the seven-year production cycle.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 10 of 17
Table 6. Significant contributions (>95%) by impact category in various inputs of mezcal production.
Production Process Fermentation with Sugar Distillation Young Agave Plant
Impact Category/Input Sugarcane (96%) * Residual Wood (94%) * Herbicide (82%) *
Climate change – –
Ozone depletion
Terrestrial acidification – -
Freshwater eutrophication • •
Marine eutrophication -
Human toxicity
Photochemical oxidant formation
Particulate matter formation
Terrestrial ecotoxicity
Freshwater ecotoxicity • •
Marine ecotoxicity • •
Ionising radiation
Agricultural land occupation
Urban land occupation
Natural land transformation • •
Water depletion
Metal depletion • •
Fossil depletion
Total significant categories 13 10 10
Note: * Percentage contribution in processing for each input.
In mezcal production, the environmental impact resulted from the addition of sugarcane used in
the processing stage. Figure 4shows the origin of the impact of sugarcane obtained from the Simapro
software database (version 8.2.3.0., PR
é
Sustainability, Amersfoort, The Netherlands). It is observed
that irrigation and the use of nitrogenous fertilisers are the inputs with the greatest impact in the
agricultural phase, contributing approximately 41.9%. Within its industrial part, transport stands out.
In total, 0.344 kg of CO2eq was generated per kg of sugarcane.
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 10 of 17
Natural land transformation
Water depletion
Metal depletion
Fossil depletion
Total significant categories 13 10 10
Note: * Percentage contribution in processing for each input.
Unlike some LCA studies applied to alcoholic beverages, where their agricultural stage
provided the greatest environmental impact, in the present study it was found that for mezcal the
production the manufacturing/processing stage provides it. For example, Gazulla et al. [20] reported
that the impact of their agricultural stage on wine production is due to greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions produced by the use of fertilisers. They found a use of 0.7 kg per year of fertiliser per 750
mL bottle. For mezcal production, they use 0.003 kg of fertiliser per bottle of the same size, but
unlike grapes, agave uses fertiliser only in the first three years of the seven-year production cycle.
In mezcal production, the environmental impact resulted from the addition of sugarcane used
in the processing stage. Figure 4 shows the origin of the impact of sugarcane obtained from the
Simapro software database (version 8.2.3.0., PRé Sustainability, Amersfoort, The Netherlands). It is
observed that irrigation and the use of nitrogenous fertilisers are the inputs with the greatest impact
in the agricultural phase, contributing approximately 41.9%. Within its industrial part, transport
stands out. In total, 0.344 kg of CO2eq was generated per kg of sugarcane.
Figure 4. Inputs with the greatest impact on the sugarcane production.
In the category of craft and ancestral mezcal subject to NOM-070-SCFI-2016 that do not use
sugar in their process, they present a different distribution of environmental impact. The input that
contributes most is the wood used during distillation within the processing stage. Obtaining this
input involves a forestry process and an industrial process. Figure 5 shows the nitrogen products,
electricity and resins as the inputs with the greatest impact on the production of waste wood,
generating a total of 52 kg of CO2eq per m3 of waste wood.
Figure 4. Inputs with the greatest impact on the sugarcane production.
In the category of craft and ancestral mezcal subject to NOM-070-SCFI-2016 that do not use
sugar in their process, they present a dierent distribution of environmental impact. The input that
contributes most is the wood used during distillation within the processing stage. Obtaining this input
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 11 of 17
involves a forestry process and an industrial process. Figure 5shows the nitrogen products, electricity
and resins as the inputs with the greatest impact on the production of waste wood, generating a total
of 52 kg of CO2eq per m3of waste wood.
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 11 of 17
Figure 5. Inputs with the greatest impact on the residual wood production.
In a comparative study of LCAs in various Peruvian pisco producers, Vázquez-Rowe et al. [22]
show that the impact on the distillation stage varies significantly depending on the fuel. When using
wood, about 15 g CO2eq are generated per 500 mL bottle, while fossil fuels generate about 350 g. In
the case of the craft mezcal studied, a comparison was made between two fuels that cover the energy
demand in the FU distillation (72.43 MJ). Table 7 shows the significant categories of GHGs generated
if 5 kg of wood or 1.6 kg of propane is used. Values of less than 1 kg of contribution in the impact
category were not considered significant. Wood was found to have a lower impact on the
environment than propane. It is important to mention that the difference between the amount of fuel
used is not negligible and its choice depends on other factors, such as costs, storage, transport, and
other considerations of each producer. Eriksson et al. [21] reported that 24.9% of the energy in their
process is invested in distillation, which comes mostly from renewable sources, such as biomass
combustion, thus reducing the environmental impact of this stage.
Table 7. Contribution by impact category of two different fuels in the distillation stage.
Impact Category/Input Residual Wood Propane
Amount of Fuel (kg) 5 1.6
72.43 MJ
Climate change
kg carbon dioxide-eq (CO2-eq) – 1631.8
Terrestrial acidification
kg of sulphur dioxide -eq (SO2-eq)
2.8
Human toxicity
kg de 1,4 dichlorobenzene -eq (1,4-DB-eq)
870.1
Photochemical oxidant formation
kg of volatile non-methane organic compounds (NMVOC)
2.8
Freshwater ecotoxicity
kg 1,4 dichlorobenzene -eq (1,4-DB-eq)
7.2
Marine ecotoxicity
kg 1,4 dichlorobenzene -eq (1,4-DB-eq)
7.1
Agricultural land occupation
m2 6.3 –
Fossil depletion
kg oil-eq – 525.6
In the stage of obtaining raw materials, the use of the herbicide has great representation during
the obtaining of the young agave plant, a process that lasts three years and uses 0.07 kg of herbicide
per 750 mL bottle of mezcal. In other studies, the use of fertilisers or pesticides is more represented
than herbicides, such as in the production of pisco [22] or wine [18]. Figure 6 shows the most
representative inputs in the impact of the production of 1 kg of herbicide, whose process generates
10.2 kg of CO2eq.
Figure 5. Inputs with the greatest impact on the residual wood production.
In a comparative study of LCAs in various Peruvian pisco producers, V
á
zquez-Rowe et al. [
22
]
show that the impact on the distillation stage varies significantly depending on the fuel. When using
wood, about 15 g CO
2
eq are generated per 500 mL bottle, while fossil fuels generate about 350 g.
In the case of the craft mezcal studied, a comparison was made between two fuels that cover the
energy demand in the FU distillation (72.43 MJ). Table 7shows the significant categories of GHGs
generated if 5 kg of wood or 1.6 kg of propane is used. Values of less than 1 kg of contribution in
the impact category were not considered significant. Wood was found to have a lower impact on
the environment than propane. It is important to mention that the dierence between the amount of
fuel used is not negligible and its choice depends on other factors, such as costs, storage, transport,
and other considerations of each producer. Eriksson et al. [
21
] reported that 24.9% of the energy in
their process is invested in distillation, which comes mostly from renewable sources, such as biomass
combustion, thus reducing the environmental impact of this stage.
Table 7. Contribution by impact category of two dierent fuels in the distillation stage.
Impact Category/Input Residual Wood Propane
Amount of Fuel (kg) 5 1.6
72.43 MJ
Climate change
kg carbon dioxide-eq (CO2-eq) – 1631.8
Terrestrial acidification
kg of sulphur dioxide-eq (SO2-eq) 2.8
Human toxicity
kg de 1,4 dichlorobenzene-eq (1,4-DB-eq) 870.1
Photochemical oxidant formation
kg of volatile non-methane organic compounds (NMVOC) 2.8
Freshwater ecotoxicity
kg 1,4 dichlorobenzene-eq (1,4-DB-eq) 7.2
Marine ecotoxicity
kg 1,4 dichlorobenzene-eq (1,4-DB-eq) 7.1
Agricultural land occupation
m26.3 –
Fossil depletion
kg oil-eq – 525.6
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 12 of 17
In the stage of obtaining raw materials, the use of the herbicide has great representation during
the obtaining of the young agave plant, a process that lasts three years and uses 0.07 kg of herbicide per
750 mL bottle of mezcal. In other studies, the use of fertilisers or pesticides is more represented than
herbicides, such as in the production of pisco [
22
] or wine [
18
]. Figure 6shows the most representative
inputs in the impact of the production of 1 kg of herbicide, whose process generates 10.2 kg of CO
2
eq.
Sustainability 2020, 12, x FOR PEER REVIEW 12 of 17
Figure 6. Inputs with the largest impact on the herbicide production.
Table 8 shows a comparison of CO2 emissions for various alcoholic beverages. The studies
corresponding to distilled beverages show values greater than 1.5 kg of CO2 except as reported by
Leivas et al. [44] for gin. The difference in beverage emissions is most likely due to variations in the
product life cycle or system boundaries of each study. For example, gin has the lowest emissions
value (0.58 kg CO2) because its agricultural stage does not generate impacts since it obtains its
botanical resources from the wild [41]. On the other hand, Vázquez-Rowe et al. [22] show for
Peruvian pisco the average emissions of several wineries, with 3.37 kg of CO2 being the highest
value.
Table 8. Comparison of CO2 emissions among alcoholic beverages.
Beverage
(750 mL)
Emissions
kg CO2 eq References
Craft mezcal 1.7 This report
Gin 0.62 Leivas et al. [44]
Beer 0.63 Amienyo et al. [17]
Crianza wine 0.93 Gazulla et al. [20]
Aged red wine 0.95 Meneses et al. [23]
White wine 1.01 Fusi et al. [24]
Austrailian red wine 1.25 Amienyo et al. [18]
Whisky 2.25 Eriksson et al. [21]
Ribeiro wine 2.64 Vázquez-Rowe et al. [19]
Pisco 3.62 Vázquez-Rowe et al. [22]
3.3. Energy Demand for Craft Mezcal Production
Agro-ecosystems are demanding energy from various sources, from solar energy for biomass
development, to energy from fossil sources when they require heating such as in greenhouses or
agricultural machinery. In the case of mezcal production, the various stages demand various sources
of energy, either for primary use or for the processing of its inputs.
Table 9 shows the energy demand of type II craft mezcal production obtained from Table 2, by
life cycle stage and by its relationship with the various inputs, as well as the percentage contribution
of the latter. A total of 163.8 MJ/bottle (750 mL) was identified as required. The stage with the highest
energy requirement was manufacturing/processing. This stage is a relatively short process that lasts
from one to two months, which, nevertheless, demands 73.4% of the whole production process to
obtain the mezcal product, due to the use of firewood and wood. The stage of obtaining raw
materials, despite a duration of about seven years, requires 21.4% of the total energy for the
production of agave hearts. This is due to the impact generated by the use of herbicides. The agave
used in this study is semi-cultivated, which could explain why its greatest impact stage is not
Figure 6. Inputs with the largest impact on the herbicide production.
Table 8shows a comparison of CO
2
emissions for various alcoholic beverages. The studies
corresponding to distilled beverages show values greater than 1.5 kg of CO
2
except as reported by
Leivas et al. [
44
] for gin. The dierence in beverage emissions is most likely due to variations in the
product life cycle or system boundaries of each study. For example, gin has the lowest emissions value
(0.58 kg CO
2
) because its agricultural stage does not generate impacts since it obtains its botanical
resources from the wild [
41
]. On the other hand, V
á
zquez-Rowe et al. [
22
] show for Peruvian pisco the
average emissions of several wineries, with 3.37 kg of CO2being the highest value.
Table 8. Comparison of CO2emissions among alcoholic beverages.
Beverage
(750 mL)
Emissions
kg CO2eq References
Craft mezcal 1.7 This report
Gin 0.62 Leivas et al. [44]
Beer 0.63 Amienyo et al. [17]
Crianza wine 0.93 Gazulla et al. [20]
Aged red wine 0.95 Meneses et al. [23]
White wine 1.01 Fusi et al. [24]
Austrailian red wine 1.25 Amienyo et al. [18]
Whisky 2.25 Eriksson et al. [21]
Ribeiro wine 2.64 Vázquez-Rowe et al. [19]
Pisco 3.62 Vázquez-Rowe et al. [22]
3.3. Energy Demand for Craft Mezcal Production
Agro-ecosystems are demanding energy from various sources, from solar energy for biomass
development, to energy from fossil sources when they require heating such as in greenhouses or
agricultural machinery. In the case of mezcal production, the various stages demand various sources
of energy, either for primary use or for the processing of its inputs.
Table 9shows the energy demand of type II craft mezcal production obtained from Table 2, by life
cycle stage and by its relationship with the various inputs, as well as the percentage contribution of
the latter. A total of 163.8 MJ/bottle (750 mL) was identified as required. The stage with the highest
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 13 of 17
energy requirement was manufacturing/processing. This stage is a relatively short process that lasts
from one to two months, which, nevertheless, demands 73.4% of the whole production process to
obtain the mezcal product, due to the use of firewood and wood. The stage of obtaining raw materials,
despite a duration of about seven years, requires 21.4% of the total energy for the production of agave
hearts. This is due to the impact generated by the use of herbicides. The agave used in this study is
semi-cultivated, which could explain why its greatest impact stage is not obtaining raw materials,
as in other studies where a greater use of agrochemicals is required. In craft mezcal production,
the main source of energy came from burning biomass. Other sources such as electricity or petroleum
derivatives, e.g., agrochemicals and hydrocarbons for transportation, had less participation.
Table 9. Total energy inputs in the stages of mezcal production.
Stage Power Inputs
(MJ/FU)
Contribution
(%)
Obtaining raw materials (agave) 21.4
Herbicide 16.7 47.6
Gasoline transport 12.0 34.3
Human work 3.9 11.1
Others ** 2.4 6.9
Subtotal stage 35
Manufacturing/Processing 73.4
Agave *
Firewood and wood 107.2 89.1
Gasoline transport 8.0 6.7
Sugar 3.1 2.6
Others ** 2.0 1.6
Subtotal stage 120.3
Blending 15.1
Bottles 8.5 99.5
Others ** 0.04 0.5
Subtotal stage 8.5
Total 163.8 100
Notes: * Total value of the previous stage so not counted in order to avoid double counting; **
Σ
Others, included
the following categories: use of chainsaw, fertiliser, pesticide, water, seeds, tractor, diesel transport, electric power,
firewood and wood for agave heart cooking and distillation, PP screw caps, sticky paper labels, cardboard boxes.
The energy demand for mezcal production diered from other beverages such as whisky reported
by Eriksson et al. [
21
] with 57.3 MJ/750 mL bottle. However, whisky production only considered
energy obtained from direct sources (electricity and fossil fuels), while in this study, mezcal included
the energy required for input production.
Table 10 shows the comparison of SE and EP in alcoholic drinks and spirits around the world,
including water as a reference drink. The mezcal production process had an SE value of 21.8 MJ/dl
and an EP of 0.05 dl of mezcal for each MJ. Of the references cited, the beer production analysed by
Olajire [
26
] had the lowest value for SE (0.19) and the highest for EP (5.18), which means that more
product is obtained with less energy. It should be noted that dierences in the values of SE and EP
may be due to diering processes, inputs or equipment used, their origin, and the source and type of
energy (direct or indirect).
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 14 of 17
Table 10. Comparative table of SE and EP in some alcoholic and spirit drinks.
Product (7.5 dL) SE (MJ/dL) PE (dL/MJ) Country References
Craft mezcal Type II 21.8 0.05 Mexico This report
Whisky 7.6 0.13 Sweden Eriksson et al. [21]
Wine 3.0 0.33 United Kingdom Amienyo et al. [18]
Gin 1.83 0.55 Spain Leivas et al. [44]
Beer 1.75 0.57 United Kingdom Amienyo et al. [17]
Beer 0.3 3.33 Latvia Kubule et al. [45]
Beer 0.19 5.18 Nigeria Olajire [26]
Drinking water 0.02 48.14 United States Bukhary et al. [46]
Note: The values in this table were calculated according to the data in each reference. 750 mL =7.5 dL. The decilitre
unit is handled to facilitate the presentation of the data.
4. Conclusions
This study identified the critical points of environmental impact and energy demand for craft
mezcal production, resulting in the manufacturing/processing stage for both cases, unlike other studies
whose main impact comes from obtaining raw materials. During the comparison of mezcal categories,
it was found that changing a key input, such as sugarcane, wood, or herbicide, redistributes the
percentage contribution to environmental impact. The energy demand of craft mezcal production
has a value of 163.8 MJ/bottle (750 mL) equivalent to 4.62 L of gasoline. The CO
2
emissions of spirits
whose process is industrialised and whose life cycle includes everything from obtaining raw materials
to the end of life show higher values than spirits whose process is carried out by hand or whose raw
materials are obtained from the wild. In stricto sensu, the non-technical and ancestral production of
mezcal is dicult to compare because of the variants in machinery, equipment, and infrastructure.
In mezcal’s life cycle, for example, some agaves are only obtained in the wild, while others, because
they are endemic species, only develop in the space that meets the required characteristics, and there
are also species that only reproduce through seed, like the agave mentioned in this study. However,
in general terms, mezcal production has homogeneous stages. For this reason, we consider that this
study could be valid for others vinatas or palenques with same technification level.
5. Recommendations
Based on the results, we believe that it is possible to reduce the environmental impact and energy
consumption for mezcal production, so the following recommendations are made for future research.
Carry out a study in other vinatas or palenques of the equivalent category of mezcal to compare
in other regions the critical points of environmental impact.
Compare production processes with alternatives that may have less impact, for example, the use
of renewable energies, organic agriculture, recycling, or waste management.
Establish a guide of good environmental practices for craft mezcal production.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, L.M.-B.; methodology, L.M.-B. and J.M.M.; software, L.M.-B. and J.M.M.;
validation, L.M.-B., Q.A.-V., and P.T.-G.; formal analysis, J.M.M. and E.B.-T.; resources, L.M.-B., Q.A.-V., and P.T.-G.;
data curation, E.B.-T.; writing—original draft preparation, L.M.-B., E.B.-T., and J.M.M.; writing—review and
editing, Q.A.-V. and P.T.-G. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.
Funding:
The APC was funded by the Facultad de Ciencias Qu
í
micas e Ingenier
í
a, Universidad Aut
ó
noma de
Baja California.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Sustainability 2020,12, 8242 15 of 17
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