Chicken and salmon have equivalent—and surprisingly far-reaching—environmental impacts

Read the full story at Anthropocene Magazine.

Many people choose fish instead of meat to offset their environmental footprints. But if the choice is farmed salmon instead of chicken, then researchers have some unsettling results to share: the environmental impact of these two foods is about the same.

The reason for that is their feed, which is remarkably similar for chicken and salmon, and accounts for the majority of impacts—which are spread across land and sea for both animals.

Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of a Novel Cultivated Meat Burger Patty in the United States

Kim S, Beier A, Schreyer HB, Bakshi BR (2022). “Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of a Novel Cultivated Meat Burger Patty in the United States.” Sustainability. 14(23):16133.

Abstract: The meat industry has a substantial negative impact on the environment. As a result, this industry is in a period of change to alternative meat to mitigate the environmental issues caused by conventional meat production. Cultivated meat is highlighted as an alternative to conventional meat-based diets. SCiFi Foods has developed such a novel cultivated meat burger as a potential successor to the currently available burgers. Based on the process information provided by SCiFi Foods, this work performed a life cycle analysis on the novel cultivated meat burger and compared it with alternatives. The life cycle impacts of the novel burger were evaluated using four indicators: greenhouse gas emissions (CML-IA); energy use (cumulative energy demand); land use (ReCiPe midpoint); and water use (ReCiPe midpoint). The study found that the cultivated meat burger generated 87% less greenhouse gas emissions, required 39% less energy, had 90% less influence on land use, and 96% less water use than the comparable beef patty. The effects of uncertainty in the data, sensitivity to major assumptions, and the effect of the manufacturing plant location were analyzed. The studied burger was also found to have a life cycle environmental impact that is comparable with plant-based commercialized burgers that are currently available.

Product environmental footprinting: Will the EU pave the way?

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

As the environmental impact of food becomes an important indicator for consumers all around the world, private and public initiatives have multiplied. These initiatives use several methodologies to calculate the environmental impact of a product, which means that one product can have different results depending on the method used.

In the European Union, the Commission has decided to address this fragmentation by announcing the publication of a proposal for a regulation on the substantiation of claims relating to the environmental performance of products and businesses.

Advanced plastics recycling yields climate benefits

Read the full story from City College of New York.

Engineers have released a new report which examined advanced recycling. The report concluded that advanced recycling helps avoid climate impacts, reduces demand for energy resources, and offers key tools for expanding the circular economy.

P&G uses life cycle assessment for sustainable packaging design

Read the full story at Packaging World.

Victoria Jung, Packaging Technology Leader for P&G’s Surface Care Portfolio, explains how the company uses LCA to guide its packaging design, using Swiffer, Mr. Clean, and Dawn as examples.

Environmental Impact Comparison of Just Salad’sReusable Bowl and Disposable Containers

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Just Salad was interested in a life cycle assessment (LCA) to compare the environmental
impacts of their Reusable Bowl Program (MyBowl) as compared to a disposable fiber bowl. NYSP2I performed an ISO 14040/44 compliant comparative assertion LCA of the MyBowl Program and a comparable disposable fiber bowl.

Leveraging Life Cycle Assessment to Better Promote the Circular Economy: A First Step Using the Concept of Opportunity Cost

Aleisa, E., & Heijungs, R. (2022). “Leveraging Life Cycle Assessment to Better Promote the Circular Economy: A First Step Using the Concept of Opportunity Cost.” Sustainability 14(6), 3451.

Abstract: In economics, opportunity cost is defined as the benefit foregone by choosing another course of action. Considering opportunity costs enables the improved handling of trade-offs to better support strategic decision-making. We introduce the concept of opportunity cost into life cycle assessment (LCA). In our framework, opportunity cost extends the system expansion paradigm to support better alignment with a circular economy (CE). Opportunity cost thinking is considered to be most useful for the efficient allocation of scarce economic capital for the creation of economic value. In the environmental domain, we use such thinking to account for the implications of ‘wasting waste’. In this paper, we consider a case of treated wastewater sludge being used as a source of nutrients as a vehicle to study the points at which LCA can support a CE. Our conclusions, however, have wider repercussions because there are many more situations in which product systems are analytically demarcated from the web of connections in which they are embedded. 

An Approach to Determine Missing Life Cycle Inventory Data for Chemicals (RREM)

Huber, E., Bach, V., Holzapfel, P., Blizniukova, D., & Finkbeiner, M. (2022). “An Approach to Determine Missing Life Cycle Inventory Data for Chemicals (RREM).” Sustainability 14(6), 3161.

Abstract: Chemicals impact the environment. However, life cycle assessments (LCA) of products containing chemicals are often not possible due to a lack of available datasets. Existing methodologies to address this problem have several shortcomings. Therefore, a new approach to model chemicals is introduced to fill dataset gaps in inventory databases. Further data for 60 chemicals are provided. The approach consists of four steps: (i) general research on the chemical and the synthesis processes, (ii) setting up the reaction equations, (iii) researching the required thermal energy, and (iv) modeling of the dataset (RREM). Depending on the obtained data, calculations are carried out or assumptions are applied. The environmental impact of the chemicals is modeled in the LCA software linking to existing datasets. A case study of the chemical octocrylene illustrates the application of RREM. An overview is given of the environmental profile of 60 chemicals modeled based on RREM. The validity of the assumptions and their influences on the results are examined by a sensitivity analysis. By modeling chemicals with the RREM approach, previously unknown environmental impacts of chemicals and products containing them can be determined.

Electric vehicles are far better than gas-powered vehicles but not a magic bullet, analysis shows

Read the full story at Treehugger.

Since the current electric vehicle (EV) boom started, there have been arguments about how much cleaner EVs are in comparison to internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV). The claims are, “Making the batteries is dirty!” or, “The electricity is made from burning coal!” This Treehugger has argued many times that if you account for the embodied carbon—or the upfront carbon emissions released from making the materials and building the vehicle—they still have a significant carbon footprint.

Now, a new study from the Yale School of the Environment published in Nature Communications looks at all the data, the full life cycle of EVs, and finds EVs have significantly lower life cycle carbon than ICEV—far lower than previously thought.

The true costs of toxic materials

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Potential chemical impacts during the use phase are important considerations to include in material decisions, and these impacts must be considered in weighing the true cost of a product. As the safer materials movement matures, we must evolve to include a more comprehensive and just consideration of chemical impacts and the true cost of materials. This means considering impacts throughout the full life cycle of a product including extraction/refining, chemical manufacturing, product manufacturing and end of life. The bottom line is that some products can be sold cheaply because someone else is carrying the burden of the true cost.