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03-03-2021 | LCA FOR AGRICULTURE

Multifunctional modelling in the life cycle assessment of honey considering pollination

Journal:
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Authors:
Ioannis Arzoumanidis, Luigia Petti, Domenico Raucci, Andrea Raggi
Important notes
Communicated by Serenella Sala

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Abstract

Purpose

An apicultural system is characterised by multifunctionality, with one of the functions being the pollination service performed by honeybees, which is of fundamental importance for the nutrition of mankind. The discussion on including ecosystem services in the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology has opened; this article proposes an alternative way of considering ecosystem services in the specific case of a multifunctional system. Indeed, in an LCA implementation, this study applies an economic allocation between the main product (honey) and the pollination service performed by domesticated honeybees for the ecosystems. Here, the consideration of the pollination service in two honey (orange-blossom and cherry-blossom) LCA case studies is examined.

Methods

The multifunctionality was managed by performing an economic allocation between the main product (honey) and the pollination service. The economic value of the main product was calculated by using specific costing approaches for honey, whilst the one of the pollination service by using its market value, where applicable, or on the basis of the dependence of the two species of fruit trees (related to the two types of honey analysed) upon pollination. The calculated values were then used in the main scenario of the study.

Results and discussion

The results of the case studies showed that the potential environmental impact of honey decreases for all impact categories when the economic allocation is performed. Electricity consumption for the storage of supers in the hives placement phase and the use of packaging materials were found to be the most impacting processes for both honey types, as well as the transport by aircraft for the distribution of the product overseas. Water consumption was the first most affected impact category, followed by human carcinogenic toxicity and terrestrial ecotoxicity. A sensitivity analysis confirmed the results.

Conclusions

Given the identified hotspots, an attempt should be made to reduce the impact of glass (for the jar) and steel (for the lid) by reducing their mass per unit as well as the electricity consumption for the refrigeration of supers. Furthermore, different options for distributing the product abroad should be examined.

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