“I use the analogy of writing a story,” explains AgResearch scientist and LCA team member, Dr Andre Mazzetto.
“In this case, we - the people that work with LCA - are the storytellers, and the food product is the main character. So we need to understand where the product comes from, how it is produced, the main inputs for the production, how it is used, how it is distributed etc. This way, we can tell the story, and based on all this information, we calculate the product's environmental burdens, such as the carbon footprint.”
AgResearch’s principal scientist Dr Stewart Ledgard, an internationally recognised LCA expert, says LCA is a tool that analyses resource use and environmental emissions associated with a product or system – but it’s also more than that.
“LCA accounts for the impacts from extraction of all raw material used and production of all of the inputs used, many of which may be from offshore. It often also covers the full life cycle of a product, including processing, transport, retail, consumer and waste stages. Results are expressed per kilogram of a product and so it is often used to help make decisions in choice of food, goods or systems to minimise our impacts on the environment.”