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Life cycle assessment of olive oil: A case study in southern Italy

Author:
Guarino, Francesco, Falcone, Giacomo, Stillitano, Teodora, De Luca, Anna Irene, Gulisano, Giovanni, Mistretta, Marina, Strano, Alfio
Source:
Journal of environmental management 2019 v.238 pp. 396-407
ISSN:
0301-4797
Subject:
Olea europaea, business enterprises, case studies, energy, environmental impact, extra-virgin olive oil, fertilizers, glass, hills, land use, life cycle assessment, particulates, stakeholders, Italy
Abstract:
The paper describes the results of a specific LCA based analysis of the production of olive oil in the region of Calabria, in southern Italy.The goal of the study is to assess the energy and environmental impacts of different scenarios involving conventional and organic cultivations, plains and hills cultivations and involving different operating techniques. The study also aims at assessing the share of each life cycle step on the total of energy and environmental impacts.The functional unit chosen for the comparative analysis is a glass bottle of 0.75 L of extra virgin olive oil. A “from cradle to gate” perspective was chosen. The analysis was developed according to the LCA standards of the ISO 14040 series.The analysis is based on a field analysis developed in the last years in the province of Reggio Calabria between more than 50 enterprises and stakeholders of the field, representative of the whole Calabria region and of most southern Italy. The data used for the development of mass and energy balances are related to the years 2013–2015.The results clarify that for all indicators that the first part of the life cycle – from the production, including the growth of the olive plant to the full production stage – is the most relevant, variable between 80.6% share in the case of the particulate matter indicator to the 99.64% in the case of land use (Hill – Biological agriculture scenario).Relevant differences can be also traced for each specific indicator among all scenarios; high impacts are traced for the agricultural stages among all scenarios (70% −90% in all indicators) with high impacts caused by fertilizers. Among the transformation stages the bottle production is one of the most relevant sources of life cycle energy uses and environmental impacts (80–90%).
Agid:
6346202