When product diversification influences life cycle impact assessment: A case study of canned anchovy
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AuthorLaso Cortabitarte, Jara; Margallo Blanco, María; Fullana i Palmer, Pere; Bala Gala, Alba; Gazulla Santos, Cristina; Irabien Gulías, José Ángel; Aldaco García, Rubén
The anchovy canning industry is one of the most important economic resources of the Cantabria region in Spain. However, environmental, economic and social problems over the past years have forced companies to apply marketing strategies, develop product diversification, create new products and introduce them in new “green markets”. Launching Cantabrian canned anchovies into more sustainable markets requires measuring the environmental performance using Product Category Rules (PCRs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). EPDs and PCRS include the environmental profile of a range of similar products, such as all of the available canned anchovy products. The great variety of anchovy canned products depends on three process variables: the origin of the anchovy (Cantabria, Argentina and Chile or Peru), the type of oil (refined olive oil, extra virgin olive oil and sunflower oil) and the packaging (aluminum, tinplate, glass and plastic).
This work aims to assess the environmental impact from cradle to grave of canned anchovies in oil using the life cycle assessment methodology (LCA). Moreover, the paper evaluates the influence of the above-mentioned three product variables in the LCA results. The results show that out of all of the alternatives, Chilean and Peruvian anchovies have the highest environmental burdens due to the transportation by ship. The production of anchovies in sunflower oil is a less environmentally friendly oil process due to the low yield per hectare of sunflower cultivation. Finally, the use of aluminum as the packaging material has the largest environmental impact out of almost all of the impact categories. Moreover, because the LCA results can be significantly affected by the allocation procedure, a sensitivity analysis comparing system expansion, mass and economic allocation is performed. In this case, the system expansion approach presents the highest environmental impacts followed by the mass allocation.