The environmental analysis of asiago PDO cheese: a case study from farm gate-to-plant gate
A farm gate-to-plant gate life cycle assessment was performed to estimate the environmental impact of Asiago Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheese, the fourth most produced Italian PDO cheese. One manufacturing plant were surveyed for primary data. Emphasis was given to manufacturing processes, wherein environmental hotspots were identified. However the farm phase was discussed in order to obtain a clear prospect of Asiago cheese production. Inputs and outputs at the plant, such as cheese ingredients, fuels, electricity, water, cleaning agents, packaging, waste, and associated transport were included. Asiago cheese was the main product and co-products were other cheeses and liquid whey. Raw milk, other materials and energy flows were allocated using economic allocation strategy, while salt was attributed using plant specific information. Scenario analysis was about allocation strategies and time of cheese aging. SimaPro© 8.1.1 was the modelling software. Ecoinvent® v3.1 database was used for upstream processes. Climate change and energy consumption per kg of Asiago cheese was 10.1 kg CO2-eq and 70.2 MJ, respectively. Uncertainty analysis gave 95% confidence interval of 6.2–17.5 kg CO2-eq and 41.8–115 MJ per kg of Asiago cheese. The main impact driver was raw milk production. At the plant, electricity and fuels usage, refrigerants, packaging and wastewater treatment had the highest contribution to the overall impacts, except for fresh water eutrophication where wastewater treatment had the largest impact. Energy and fuel consumption were the crucial “hot spots” to focus on for efficiency and mitigation procedures at plant.
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