Life cycle assessment of biotech products – case study of root chicory for inulin production


Abstract: Life cycle assessment (LCA) provides information about the environmental aspects
over the whole life cycle of a product, process, or service. According to ISO 14040
“Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Principles and framework”, an LCA
addresses the environmental aspects and potential environmental impacts (e. g., global warming potential, use of resources and the environmental consequences of releases) throughout a product’s life cycle from raw material extraction through production, use, end-of-life treatment, recycling and final disposal (i. e., cradle-to-grave). In addition to providing a general overview of a product’s environmental impact, LCA can also be used to identify so-called environmental hot-spots, i. e., life cycle activities with a significant contribution to the overall impact. One case study of a conducted LCA of biotech products is presented: the results within CHIC, a European Union Horizon 2020 project, where new chicory variants are developed producing more and reported to be healthier inulin as well as medicinal terpenes. The results show that improvement in the inulin yield of the new chicory variants leads to lower greenhouse gas emissions and cumulated primary energy demand in comparison to the reference inulin process.

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