Life Cycle Methodologies to Improve Agri-Food Systems Sustainability

Author/s Anna Irene De Luca, Giacomo Falcone, Nathalie Iofrida, Teodora Stillitano, Alfio Strano, Giovanni Gulisano
Publishing Year 2015 Issue 2015/1 Language Italian
Pages 16 P. 135-150 File size 180 KB
DOI 10.3280/RISS2015-001009
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The paper takes into account the sustainability issues linked to agri-food systems by deepening the so-called life cycle-based approaches as tools useful to characterize and quantify several impact typologies generated by all phases of a production process. To achieve the objectives of eco-compatibility, economic profitability and social well-being, the measurement of sustainability performances represents an essential requirement, as well as the need of increasingly innovative evaluation methods with holistic and all-embracing features. Even more so, in the evaluation of complex socio-environmental systems, like agricultural ones, uncertainty often arises and the quality of decision processes can be a high concern. Life Cycle Thinking (LCT), as conceptual framework, and its operative counterpart the Life Cycle Management (LCM) are characterized by a systemic approach useful to integrate sustainability priorities into all phases of production processes, by improving design, innovation and evaluation activities. LCM includes several analytical tools, more or less standardized or yet in working progress, which compose the so-called "tool box" including Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA), each one for the evaluation of the three different sustainability dimensions. This article aims to provide a brief overview of all life cycle methodologies by outlining the origin and evolution, the main features and potentiality of application in agri-food sector.

Il presente articolo affronta le problematiche di sostenibilità legate ai sistemi agroalimentari, approfondendo i cosiddetti approcci basati sul "ciclo di vita" (life cycle), in quanto strumenti utili a caratterizzare e quantificare le diverse tipologie di impatto che possono essere generate da tutte le fasi di un processo produttivo. Per conseguire obiettivi di eco-compatibilità, profittabilità economica e benessere sociale, la misurazione di performance di sostenibilità rappresenta un requisito essenziale, così come la necessità di metodi di valutazione sempre più innovativi e che siano il più possibile olistici e onnicomprensivi. A maggior ragione, nella valutazione di complessi sistemi socio-ambientali, come quelli agricoli ed agroalimentari, la componente di incertezza gioca un ruolo importante rendendo problematica la risoluzione dei processi decisionali. Il Life Cycle Thinking (LCT), come quadro concettuale, e la sua controparte operativa rappresentata dal Life Cycle Management (LCM), sono caratterizzate da un approccio sistemico utile ad integrare le priorità di sostenibilità considerando tutte le fasi dei processi di produzione, migliorandone la pianificazione, l’introduzione di innovazioni e le attività di valutazione. LCM include diversi strumenti analitici, più o meno standardizzati o ancora in fase di sviluppo, che costituiscono la cosiddetta "cassetta degli attrezzi" per valutare le tre diverse dimensioni della sostenibilità: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Life Cycle Costing (LCC) e social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA). L’articolo fornisce un inquadramento delle summenzionate metodologie, delineandone l’origine, l’evoluzione, le principali caratteristiche e le potenzialità di applicazione nel settore agroalimentare.

Keywords: Sustainability, agri-food systems, life cycle approaches, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Life Cycle Costing (LCC), Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA).

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Anna Irene De Luca, Giacomo Falcone, Nathalie Iofrida, Teodora Stillitano, Alfio Strano, Giovanni Gulisano, Life Cycle Methodologies to Improve Agri-Food Systems Sustainability in "RIVISTA DI STUDI SULLA SOSTENIBILITA'" 1/2015, pp 135-150, DOI: 10.3280/RISS2015-001009