Jump to Main Content
Comparison of Water-focused Life Cycle Assessment and Water Footprint Assessment: The case of an Italian wine
- Borsato, Eros, Giubilato, Elisa, Zabeo, Alex, Lamastra, Lucrezia, Criscione, Paolo, Tarolli, Paolo, Marinello, Francesco, Pizzol, Lisa
- The Science of the total environment 2019 v.666 pp. 1220-1231
- best management practices, bottling, certification, ecolabeling, food production, freshwater, life cycle assessment, vineyards, water footprint, water resources, winemaking, wines
- In recent decades, the debate on how to implement and measure sustainability in food production gained increasing importance and interest for agriculture. In the wine sector, producers are increasingly pursuing sustainable practices, including measures for water preservation from degradation and overuse. But methodologies for assessing and communicating the impacts on water resources need to be understood in detail to guide the selection of the most appropriate management practices, support environmental labelling and promote environmental-friendly products to consumers. This work focuses on the impacts on water resources associated with the production of Italian wine by comparing two methodologies: the Water-focused Life Cycle Assessment and the “Water” indicator included in the Italian “VIVA” certification framework, which is based on the Water Footprint Assessment. The two methodologies address the impact on freshwater consumption and degradation from a life cycle perspective. VIVA is based on a water balance method that reflects a volumetric measure of water consumption, while the LCA-based approach investigates both the freshwater consumption and depletion using different impact indicators. The study goal is to compare the two methodologies to understand how their outcomes can support and improve the management of water-related issues in wine production. One main conclusion is that the WATER indicator within VIVA framework can provide more precise recommendations for the optimal management of water use during the vineyard phase, while LCA approach highlights impact hotspots related to both direct and indirect use of water resources (e.g., it points out the relevant contribution of the bottling stage to different impact indicators). The comparative application of both methodologies can provide useful insights into the water-related impacts of different wine production processes and stages and support a comprehensive assessment of the best management practices, unless the differences in the methodological approaches and goals are well understood by assessors.