Yara has helped found the World Food Life Cycle Analysis Database (WFLDB) project to accurately chart the environmental impact of the food industry.
"The WFLDB initiative is a collaboration between major food companies and input suppliers, to establish a complete Life Cycle database of the environmental footprint of food items. Yara is committed to further reducing the environmental footprint of our products by optimizing energy efficiency and emission control in their production and by assisting growers to improve fertilizer use efficiency in the field," says Jørgen Ole Haslestad, President and Chief Executive Officer in Yara.
The project is being organized by Quantis and Agroscope, leading Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) & agriculture focused institutions in Switzerland and Canada.
“Like any human activity, the production, transportation and use of mineral fertilizers has its environmental footprint. At the same time, the use of fertilizers enhances agricultural productivity and thereby helps to utilize the limited resources of land, minerals and water more efficiently. LCA is the appropriate methodology to measure and evaluate the environmental footprint of products,” says Tove Andersen, Head of Marketing and New Business, Downstream in Yara.
"The 'environmental footprint' of crop production in general - and fertilizer use in particular - includes a wide range of different impacts like nitrate leaching or greenhouse gas emissions," explains Frank Brentrup from Yara’s Research Centre Hanninghof. "These impacts may contribute to different environmental effects, such as eutrophication, acidification, and global warming."
LCA methodology is particularly suited to examining and analyzing environmental footprint, since it is an inventory and evaluation of all environmental impacts (emissions and resource consumption) along the ‘life-cycle’ of a product. "For fertilizer this means the inclusion of raw material extraction, through production to application," Frank says.
The methodology starts with Life Cycle Inventory - the collection of environmental raw data (e.g. emissions), followed by Life Cycle Impact Assessment, which analyzes the data and relates them to environmental effects.
The WFLDB project will provide good, reliable and transparent data when making decisions and communicating about the eco-impact of food products and processes. Data will be compiled on agricultural raw materials; production inputs (fertilizer, feed, pesticides); finished food products and manufacturing processes.
“For example if a pasta company would like to calculate the carbon footprint of its products – say for labeling - they can find data for the raw materials (durum wheat, eggs ...) in this database. They will also find a default pasta value to compare with their own,” Frank explains.
“We participate in the World Food LCA Database project in order to improve existing LCA data for fertilizer production and use, and to support the development of a reference database for LCAs in the food sector," says Tove Andersen.