2. The environmental impacts of food products: introduction to lifecycle assessment

This chapter describes lifecycle assessment (LCA), the most common method used for quantifying the environmental impacts and resource use throughout the entire life cycle of a product or service. Carbon footprinting – a subset of LCA in which only the climate impact of a product is assessed – is also discussed. The chapter looks at when and how an LCA method can be applied, the complexities and uncertainties involved in performing LCA for food products and interpreting their results, as well as the benefits and limitations of the LCA approach.

We would like to acknowledge Dr Elin Röös for generously contributing her LCA expertise to much of this chapter.