The dairy sector is recognised as one of the most impacting agricultural activities. In Italy approximately 24% of cow's milk is destined to Grana Padano, a Protected Designation of Origin long ripening cheese. The Grana Padano production has increased by 10% in the last decade and approximately reached 183,000 t in 2015. Around 38% of this production is exported to Germany, US, France and to the rest of the world. This study evaluated the environmental impact of production of Grana Padano, through a “cradle to cheese factory gate” Life Cycle Assessment. The study involved an Italian cheese factory that produces about 3.6% of the total production of Grana Padano cheese and a group of 5 dairy farms, chosen among the farms that sold all milk produced to the cheese factory. The functional unit was 1 kg of Grana Padano cheese 12-month ripened. Environmental impacts of co-products: whey, cream, butter and buttermilk were also evaluated. Two sensitivity analyses were conducted: the first one had the aim to explore the effect of different allocation methods based on dry matter content, economic or nutritive value of cheese, respectively; the second one considered the variation of the impacts of milk production and its effect on cheese environmental impact.Milk production phase gave the most important contribution to the environmental impact of cheese, with a percentage of 93.5–99.6% depending on the impact category. Excluding milk production from the system boundary, milk transport and use of electricity were the main responsible of the environmental impact of cheese-making process. The climate change impact for the production of 1 kg Grana Padano was 10.3 kg of CO2 eq, using a dry matter allocation method, while 16.9 and 15.2 kg of CO2 eq adopting economic and nutritive value allocation methods, respectively.
Science of the Total Environment – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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