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Defining common criteria for harmonizing life cycle assessments of livestock systems

Goglio, Pietro; Trydemann Knudsen, Marie; Van Mierlo, Klara; Röhrig, Nina; Fossey, Maxime; Maresca, Alberto; Hashemi, Fatemeh; Ahmed Waqas, Muhammad; Yngvesson, Jenny; Nassy, Gilles; Broekema, Roline; Moakes, Simon; Pfeifer, Catherine; Borek, Robert; Yanez-Ruiz, David; Quevedo Cascante, Monica; Syp, Alina; Zylowsky, Tomasz; Romero-Helva, Manuel and Smith, Laurence G. (2023) Defining common criteria for harmonizing life cycle assessments of livestock systems. Cleaner Production Letters, 4 (100035), pp. 1-9.

[thumbnail of goglio-etal-2023-CleanerProdLetters-Vol4-No100035-p1-9.pdf] PDF - Published Version - English
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Document available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666791623000088


Animal production intensification puts pressure on resources, leads to environmental impacts, animal welfare and biodiversity issues. Livestock products provide key components of the human diet and contribute to rural territories through ecosystem services such as nutrient and biomass recycling. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is key to assess environmental impacts in livestock systems and products. A harmonization of LCA methods is necessary to improve evaluations in these areas as LCA still lacks accuracy and robustness in addressing sustainability across livestock systems and products. Here, a participatory harmonization approach was applied to provide a framework to evaluate LCAs of current and future livestock systems. A total of 29 workshops with targeted discussions among 21 LCA experts were organised, together with two anonymous surveys to harmonise evaluation criteria. First, key research topics for improving LCAs of livestock systems were identified as follows: i) Food, feed, fuel and biomaterial competition, crop-livestock interaction and the circular economy; ii) Biodiversity; iii) Animal welfare; iv) Nutrition; v) GHG emissions. Next, general evaluation criteria were identified for livestock focussed LCA methods, considering livestock systems characteristics: Transparency and Reproducibility, Completeness, Fairness and Acceptance, Robustness and Accuracy. Evaluation criteria specific to each key topic were also identified. This participatory method was successful in narrowing down general and specific evaluation criteria through targeted discussion. Moreover, this study provided a holistic participatory framework for the evaluation of LCA methods addressing the impacts of livestock systems across a range of key topics which can be further used for other sectors.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Life cycle assessment, Livestock systems, Livestock products, Harmonization, Participatory approach, Methodology, PATHWAYS, Abacus, FiBL35215
Agrovoc keywords:
life cycle analysis
livestock systems
Subjects: Animal husbandry
Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Research affiliation: European Union > Horizon 2020 > Pathways
Spain > CSIC (Spanish National Research Council)
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Animal > Animal welfare & housing > Animal husbandry
Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Sustainability > Sustainability assessment > LCA
Denmark > AU - Aarhus University > Faculty of Science and Technology > Department of Agroecology
Denmark > SEGES
France > IDELE - Institut de l’élevage
France > IFIP - Institut du porc
Italy > Univ. Perugia
Sweden > Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) > Department of Biosystems and Technology
UK > Univ. Aberystwyth > Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS)
UK > Univ. of Reading
Netherlands > Wageningen University & Research (WUR)
Horizon Europe or H2020 Grant Agreement Number:10100395
Deposited By: Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau, FiBL
ID Code:51633
Deposited On:18 Sep 2023 12:17
Last Modified:18 Sep 2023 12:17
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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