Zero allocation

When does it apply?

Zero allocation is commonly spoken about in LCAs for materials that are deemed ‘waste’ with no economic value.

The GFLI database has three different allocations to choose from, which are economic, mass, and energy. In the feed sector it is acknowledged economic allocation is the preferred method due to the contribution of by-products not used in the human food sector.

Allocation is the distribution of emissions over the multiple products a crop can produce with a chosen functional unit. Within economic allocation, the distribution is chosen based on the economic value of each particle of the crop. Within this economic allocation, some products are deemed zero allocation because of them not having any economic value and are directly consumable without further processing.

This is the case when two conditions are met: a) the product is sold as it is at the point of production (i.e. prior to drying or other modifications) and has a very low contribution to the turnover of the entire basket of co-products of the same process sold by the company; b) the (co-)production and upstream process is not deliberately modified for generating the co-products. 

Some examples of zero allocation products are spent brewers grain, potato peels, and unsold products from bakeries. Currently, the GFLI database has several products deemed as zero allocation, namely: sugar beet pulp (wet), brewer’s grain, cotton seed husks, groundnut shells, and safflower seed hulls. 

Other products, such as the distiller’s grain in the database, do not have zero allocation due to it being dried, therefore the emissions of the drying process were included in the product in the database. This is also the case for other products that undergo further processing, such as animal rendered products.  

These emissions allocated to such ingredients may include (but is not limited to) auxillary materials, transport, and energy use.

Zero allocation and the quantification of ‘no value’ are a frequent topic of discussion, the GFLI technical management Committee will continue its discussions on how to include such ingredients in the GFLI database to portray an accurate picture.

Read more about allocation of (by-)products in the GFLI methodology
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