Environmental footprints of meat, milk and egg production in Argentina
ARRIETA, EZEQUIEL M.; AGUIAR, SEBASTIAN; GONZÁLEZ FISCHER, CARLOS; CUCHIETTI, ANIBAL; CABROL, DIEGO A.; GONZÁLEZ, ALEJANDRO D.; JOBBÁGY, ESTEBAN G.
JOURNAL OF CLEANER PRODUCTION
ELSEVIER SCI LTD
Año: 2022 vol. 13 p. 1 - 15
The livestock sector contributes significantly to the resource-use and pollution from food systems. Therefore, assessing the current and future environmental impacts of livestock production under different systems in different countries, has become an important area of solution-oriented research in sustainability science. We performed a cradle-to-farm-gate life cycle analysis to quantify biomass consumption (edible and non-edible for humans), land occupation (including cropland), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the use of fossil energy, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides related to beef, chicken, pork, milk and egg production in Argentina, a major producer and consumer of animal foods. We found that in 2016 the livestock sector consumed a total of 157 Mt of biomass (87% non edible for humans), required 66.2 Mha of land, of which 7.01 Mha were cropland, and emitted 157 Mt CO2-eq to the atmosphere (46 Mt CO2-eq from land-use change). In addition, 83 PJ of fossil energy were used, including that for the manufacture of 534 kt of N?P?S synthetic fertilizers and 59.6 kt of active ingredients of synthetic pesticides. However, the relative participation of each livestock group on the total environmental footprints was different, being beef the dominant one for all the indicators. When footprints per unit of protein weight were analyzed, all products had similar values regarding edible-biomass consumption, fossil energy use and pesticide use. However, delivering proteins from beef required between 12 and 28 times more land, and emits 6?34 more GHGs than the rest of the livestock products. The options for reducing such impacts are briefly discussed, emphasizing that solutions have to be tailored based on the management traditions and associated with the country´s high ecological heterogeneity.