Environmental and economic assessment of hard apple cider using an integrated LCA-LCC approach

Meghann Smith, Pankaj Lal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Food systems rely heavily on resources and energy inputs, and while best management practices are meant to ensure land productivity and production efficiency, there are many unknowns when it comes to sustainable farm and processing management. Hard apple cider is a small, but growing industry, and stands to benefit from predictive estimations of environmental emissions and total costs to guide sustainable decision making and supporting policy. This study applies an integrated cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Costing (LCC) model to assess the sustainability of organic apple orchards producing hard apple cider in the northeastern US. Further, we apply this model to packaging and distribution scenarios, which were seen as having the largest percentage of emissions across most impact categories. We found that 100% on-site distribution had the lowest carbon footprint at 0.91 kg carbon dioxide equivalent (kg CO2 eq) and 2.31 × 10−3 kg nitrogen oxides (NOx) eq per 12 fluid ounce serving of hard apple cider. Further, this scenario was found to have the lowest cost at just $1.43 per serving, based on capital, fixed, operational, and environmental costs. Comparatively, 100% off-site distribution had an impact of 1.30 kg CO2 eq and 5.09 × 10−3 kg NOx eq at a cost of $1.67 per serving; and 50/50 on-site/off-site distribution had an impact of 1.21 kg CO2 eq and 4 × 10−3 kg NOx eq at a cost of $1.56 per serving. While at a per serving scale these differences may appear marginal, this study provides valuable findings for current and potential hard apple cider producers to help better inform management decisions, supporting the longevity of an environmentally friendly and economically viable business model. These findings also suggest that policy supporting on-site distribution is beneficial not only for the business cost-wise but for the community's environmental quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-295
Number of pages14
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Volume32
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • Hard apple cider
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Life cycle costing
  • Scenario analysis
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Sustainable management

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