Environmental assessment of food and beverage under a NEXUS Water-Energy-Climate approach: application to the spirit drinks
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AuthorLeivas Montero, Rubén; Laso Cortabitarte, Jara; Abejón Elías, Ricardo; Margallo Blanco, María; Aldaco García, Rubén
The energy-water nexus is a concept widely established but rarely applied to product and, in particular, to food and beverage products, which have a great influence on greenhouse gases emissions. The proposed method considers the main nexus aspects in addition to other relevant aspects such as climate change, which is deeply linked with energy and water systems, and assessing process as well as product. In this framework, this study develops an integrated index (IWECN) that combines life cycle assessment (LCA) and linear programming (LP) to assess energetic, water and climate systems, enabling the identification of those products with minors energetic and water intensity and climate change effects and helping to the decision-making process and to the development of eco-innovation measures. In this case, the product assessed was one bottle (70 cl) of gin and two main hotspots were identified: the production of the glass bottle and the energy requirements of the distillation stage. Based on that, several eco-innovation strategies were proposed: the use of photovoltaic solar energy as energy source and the substitution of the glass bottle by a plastic one and by a tetra brick. The nexus results indicated that the use of solar photovoltaic energy and plastic as bottle material was the best alternative decreasing 58% the IWECN value of the production of one bottle of gin. The sensitivity analysis presented a strong preference for photovoltaic solar energy in comparison with electric power and for the reduction of the glass bottle weight or its substitution by a plastic bottle. The use of the IWECN index is extendable to any product with the aim of facilitating the decision-making process in the development of more sustainable products to introduce them in new green markets.