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LCA and EPD of high quality milk and fresh milk: comparison of environmental impacts and analysis of benefits due to company’s improvement activities. Vittorio Zambrini 1 , Mirella Di Stefano 1 , Andrea Borsari 1 , Fabrizio Boeri 2 1 Granarolo Spa 2 Life Cycle Engineering;
LCA and EPD of high quality milk and fresh milk: comparison of environmental impacts and analysis of benefits due to company’s improvement activities
Vittorio Zambrini1, Mirella Di Stefano1, Andrea Borsari1, Fabrizio Boeri2
1 Granarolo Spa
2 Life Cycle Engineering;
E-mail contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Granarolo has developed specific LCA studies  of high quality fresh milk and fresh semiskimmed milk packed in 1 litre PET bottles with the objectives to examine the life cycle of milk, identify the production phases with the greatest environmental impacts, develop and publish the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). Through the LCA and the EPD, Granarolo has presented both the environmental performance related to milk production, and the improvements achieved through its environmental programs. In particular the LCA has allowed quantification of carbon footprint reduction related to the main actions implemented by Granarolo in relation to milk.
Materials and methods
The quantification of environmental performance in relation to the production of high quality milk and fresh semiskimmed milk, both bottled in one litre PET bottles, was performed as provided by both the General Rules of the EPD system  and the specific group of PCR products - Product Category Rules . The system boundaries investigated are shown in Figure 1 and include the production of raw milk at farms (including agricultural activities) , package manufacturing, milk pasteurization and packaging at factories, and transport of the finished product to distribution sites.
Figure 1- System boundaries related to LCA of fresh milk packed in PET bottles
Results and discussions
With reference to the potential greenhouse effect (Global Warming Potential Indicator- GWP100) the LCA results (Figure 2) show that the envronmental impact of high quality milk is slightly higher than that of semiskimmed fresh milk. The differences may depend on: breeding methods used for milk production, the Granarolo factories involved in the production of different types of milk, the size and composition of average farm considered. As regard the last point it is important to highlight that the LCA analysis was made using primary data of 15 selected farms producing raw high quality milk and 8 selected farms of common milk, with the aim to calculate weighed values for an “Average Farm” representative of each category of milk
Milk production during the farming phase gives the highest contribution of greenhouse gases emissions, especially in relation with methane resulting from digestive process of cows. However, milk packaging is not negligible since it contributes for a share of about 10%. Considering that the packaging activities are directly influenced by Granarolo, some years ago the company started a specific program to reduce the environmental impact associated with the packaging phase; this program included the reduction of cap and PET bottle weight,increase in the number of bottles per pallet and the thickness reduction of the plastic film used for the palletizing phase.
Figure 2- Breakdown of GWP100 between the various stages associated with the production of 1 liter of Granarolo high quality milk and 1 litre of fresh semi-skimmed milk packed in PET bottle
The LCA study and the Environmental Product Declaration EPD related to Granarolo High quality fresh milk and fresh semiskimmed milk in PET bottles represent a useful means of environmental communication for the Company, as well as an effective tool for sustainability.
The LCA studies have helped Granarolo to identify some potential actions for environmental improvement, and have enabled Granarolo to prepare a series of recommendations to implement activities finalized at reducing the corporate environmental impact.
Granarolo improvements related to the last reduction of packaging materials for fresh pasteurized milk ended in the second semester 2010 (Figure 3). This has made possible to reduce the company's carbon footprint of about 183 tonnes of CO2 eq in the last two months of 2010. This is equivalent to the emission associated with lighting of a town of 1800 inhabitants for one year.
Figure 3- Improvement actions developed by Granarolo in order to reduce the
environmental impact of milk packaging
 Baldo, Marino, Rossi (2008); “Analisi del ciclo di vita LCA”; Edizioni Ambiente. www.studiolce.it
 The International EPD Cooperation IEC (2008): General Programme Instructions for Environmental Product Declarations, EPD - Version 1.0 dated
 PCR 2010:12 Processed Liquid Milk (versione 1.0 del 24/06/2010).
 IDF Bulletin 445/2010. A common carbon footprint approach for dairy. The IDF guide to LCA for the dairy sector.