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Sci Total Environ. 2016 Aug 15;562:614-627. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.04.070. Epub 2016 Apr 22.

Sustainability evaluation of pasteurized milk production with a life cycle assessment approach: An Iranian case study.

Author information

1
Department of Agricultural Machinery Engineering, Faculty of Agricultural, Engineering and Technology, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran. Electronic address: shahinrafiee@ut.ac.ir.
2
Department of Agricultural Machinery Engineering, Faculty of Agricultural, Engineering and Technology, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran; Environmental Specialist Research Team (ESRTeam), Tehran, Iran. Electronic address: b_khoshnevisan@ut.ac.ir.
3
Department of Agricultural Machinery Engineering, Faculty of Agricultural, Engineering and Technology, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran.
4
Agriculture and Natural Resources Program, Berea College, Berea, KY, USA.

Abstract

Agro-food systems play a significant role in the economies of all nations due to energy use and the resulting environmental consequences. The sustainability of these systems is determined by a multitude of interacting economic, social and environmental factors. Dairy production presents a relevant example of the sustainability trade-offs that occur within such systems. On the one hand, dairy production constitutes an important part of the human diet, but it is also responsible for significant emissions of potent greenhouse gases and other pollutants. In this study, the environmental aspects of pasteurized milk production in Iran were investigated using a life-cycle approach. Three sub-systems, namely feed production, dairy farm and dairy factory, were taken into account to determine how and where Iranian pasteurized milk production might be made more environmentally friendly and energy efficient. The results clearly demonstrate that the feed production stage was the hot spot in pasteurized milk production in terms of energy consumption, environmental burdens and economic costs. The largest share of the total production costs belonged to animal feeds (43%), which were part of the feed production stage. The largest consumers of energy in the production of raw milk were alfalfa (30.3%), concentrate (24%), straw (17.8%) and maize (10.9%) for cows, followed by diesel fuel (6.6%) and electricity (5.6%). The global warming potential for the production of 1000kg of raw milk at the dairy-farm gate was estimated at 457kg CO2,eq. Thus, more than 69% of the total impact at the milk-processing gate resulted from the previous two sub-systems (feed production and dairy farm), with the feed-production stage accounting for the largest fractions of the environmental burdens.

KEYWORDS:

Dairy; Energy-use pattern; Environmental evaluations; GHG emissions; Life cycle assessment

PMID:
27110976
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.04.070
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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