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A Reflection of the Use of the Life Cycle Assessment Tool for Agri-Food Sustainability

Oriana Gava (), Fabio Bartolini (), Francesca Venturi (), Gianluca Brunori (), Angela Zinnai () and Alberto Pardossi ()
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Oriana Gava: Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Fabio Bartolini: Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Francesca Venturi: Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Gianluca Brunori: Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Angela Zinnai: Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Alberto Pardossi: Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy

Sustainability, 2018, vol. 11, issue 1, 1-16

Abstract: In pursuit of agricultural sustainability and food security, research should contribute to policy-making by providing scientifically robust evidence. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an excellent candidate for generating that evidence, thereby helping the selection of interventions towards more sustainable agri-food. The purpose of this article is proposing a basis for discussion on the use of the LCA tool for targeting and monitoring of environmental policy interventions in agri-food. The problem of reducing the environmental burden in agri-food can be tackled by acting on the supply and/or demand sides and may benefit from the collaboration of supply chain stakeholders. Agri-food policies that most benefit from LCA-based data concern cross-border pollution, transaction costs following the adoption of environmental standards, adoption of less polluting practices and/or technologies, and business-to-consumer information asymmetry. The choice between the methodological options available for LCA studies (attributional, consequential, or hybrid models) depends on the purpose and scope of the study. The possibility of integrating the LCA with economic and social impact assessments—e.g., under the life cycle sustainability assessment framework—makes LCA an excellent tool for monitoring business or sectoral-level achievements with respect to UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Keywords: sustainable development goals; sustainability assessment; agricultural sustainability; food security; LCA broadening; LCA deepening (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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