International Journal on Advanced Science, Engineering and Information Technology, Vol. 7 (2017) No. 5, DOI:10.18517/ijaseit.7.5.3578

Understanding Life Cycle Thinking and its Practical Application to Agri-Food System

Novizar Nazir

Abstract

Global agri-food system will face great pressure to meet the continuing demands for food due to the increasing number of world population.  The high demand requires an increase in food production and agricultural output, which, therefore,   means more raw materials, water, energy and other resources needed.  Increasing the amount of these resources for agri-food system will harm the environment since carbon dioxide generated by the burning of fuel will then result in global warming and climate change. This paper discusses global issues related to sustainable agri-food system, such as climate change, sustainability, green products,  food loss and food mileage relationships with emissions.  It describes Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) philosophy and how LCT is operated into practical applications, using Spanish Agri-food system as an example, and challenges for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) applications in supporting sustainable agri-food systems.  Environmental impacts associated with agri-food system need to be reduced. The use of an LCA framework to determine the areas with the greatest impact and reduction strategies for agri-food operation is a viable strategy to reduce the environmental impacts in facing the increasing global demand.  Nevertheless, the application of LCA in agri-food systems varies due to global, regional, and local differences in its practice. Thus, it makes it difficult for general LCAs to be conducted on agri-food system. Despite the increasing number of LCA studies in agri-food system, literature on methodological aspects, and case studies, some challenges still need to be addressed to ensure that LCA provides significant results.

Keywords:

sustainable agriculture; agri-food system; sustainability; climate change; life cycle thinking; life cycle assessment; environmental impact

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