Energy analysis to assess the environmental sustainability of the dairy chain
AbstractIn the 1990s, attention was focused on saving energy and water with the aim of reducing production costs. Since the turn of this century, problems relating to the management of greenhouse gases have gradually assumed greater importance. Research has highlighted the problems that may arise regarding energy consumption in an Italian dairy chain. Using life-cycle assessment methods, the main steps along the production chain have been identified: breeding, dairy, and food store (FS). Our analysis shows that the different issues involved are often not easily reconcilable. Energy data need to undergo a careful and specific normalization process when dealing with specific data on different parameters (kWh/tmilk, kWh/tmilk processed, kWh/m2store). This study examined a variety of production cases (2 farms, 2 dairies, and 2 FSs) located in Lombardy, northern Italy, and electric and thermal energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions were evaluated. A total of 2.8 kgCO2/kgcheese carbon dioxide emissions relating to the production process were recorded (39% breeding, 40% dairy, 1% FS). Further studies are needed in order to provide consumers with more precise and correct information (carbon labeling or green label). This may become an important element in consumer choice.
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