27-06-2019 | SUSTAINABLE FOOD PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION
Food loss and waste metrics: a proposed nutritional cost footprint linking linear programming and life cycle assessment
Ian Vázquez-Rowe, Jara Laso, María Margallo, Isabel Garcia-Herrero, Daniel Hoehn, Francisco Amo-Setién, Alba Bala, Rebeca Abajas, Carmen Sarabia, María Jesús Durá, Pere Fullana-i-Palmer, Rubén Aldaco
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
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The main purpose of this article is to assess the nutritional and economic efficiency of food loss and waste (FLW) along the supply of 13 food categories included in the Spanish food basket by means of the definition of a new method which combines two indexes.
The nutrient-rich foods index and the economic food loss and waste (EFLW) index were combined by means of linear programming to obtain the nutritional cost footprint (NCF) indicator under a life cycle perspective. The functional unit used was the daily supply of food for a Spanish citizen in year 2015.
Results and discussion
Results showed that vegetables and cereals were the food categories most affected by the inefficiencies in the food supply chain under a nutritional perspective, being agricultural production and household consumption the main stages in which the nutritional content of food is lost or wasted. Moreover, according to the NCF index, vegetables represented 27% of total nutritional-economic wastage throughout the entire Spanish agri-food chain. They are followed by fruits, which add up to 19%. Hence, specific food waste management strategies should be established for these specific products and supply stages. Finally, the sensitivity analysis performed highlighted that results were mostly independent from the importance attributed to either nutritional or economic variables.
The methodology described in this study proposes an indicator quantifying the nutritional-economic cost of different food categories in the Spanish food basket. This NCF indicator makes it possible to define reduction strategies to promote the use of food waste fractions for waste-to-energy valorization approaches or the extraction of different types of pharmacological, chemical, or cosmetic compounds.