Carbon footprinting or all impact categories?

The carbon footprint is the quantification of the total amount of greenhouse gases for a product and covers the impact category climate change. In most life-cycle impact assessment methods, other impacts categories, such as eutrophication and acidification potential, water use, human and ecotoxicity are also accounted.

The GFLI database offers all impact categories compliant with the two impact assessment methods: ReCiPe and Environmental Footprint. While the seventeen impact categories are mandatory for anyone who wishes to develop a European Union Product Environmental Footprint study, the focus of most other international standards refers to climate change. The FAO-LEAP guidelines indicate the necessity to at least also include acidification and eutrophication potential, alongside climate change, when assessing the environmental footprint of livestock production systems. 

While Carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions still remain the biggest interest in the feed sector, the GFLI’s database offers all environmental impact categories, to limit trade-offs and allow the use of the data for ReCiPe and European Union Product  Environmental Footprint compliant LCAs.

Philippe Becquet, IFIF technical expert in multiple stakeholder platforms regarding LCAs (FAO-LEAP, GFLI), adds to this: ‘insights on possible trade-offs such as nitrogen and phosphorus leaching are especially relevant for cultivated feed ingredients. While the PEF approach is broad to accommodate a wide range of uses of any ingredient, LEAP is more directly geared towards farming systems and recommend the assessment of eutrophication and acidification potential in Life Cycle Assessment relative to livestock production. In addition, it is important to keep a holistic view including towards all impact categories when developing environmental footprints of livestock production systems.

The GFLI is exploring ways on how to provide relevant information for any regulatory standards, such as the GREET model applicable in the US biofuel and feedstocks sector, the Science-Based Target’s Initiative (SBTi) and Product Environmental Footprint.

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