Comparative evaluation of the carbon footprint from margarine and butter production in southern Brazil

ABSTRACT Life Cycle Assessment is a technique for estimating environmental impacts, such as the emission of greenhouse gases (CO2eq), for manufacturing product or process realization. The objective of this study was to establish the carbon footprint for the production of margarine and butter using ISO and PAS standards applied to a food company, located in the southern region of Brazil, from the field stage to its packed form with a functional unit of 500 g for distribution. Three scenarios were addressed for margarine (soybean oil from the South and the Midwest with and without burned deforestation) and two for butter (with mass and economic allocation). The modeling was performed with primary data from the agricultural and industrial production, and secondary data from ecoinvent ® . The economically allocated butter footprint (2.91 kg CO2eq) was higher than that of margarine produced with soybeans from the same region (1.32 kg CO2eq). However, this autonomous co-product of the dairy industry requires mass allocation to avoid overvaluation, being in fact the smallest footprint (0.63 kg CO2eq). The use of soybeans from the Midwest increased margarine’ footprint (1.58 kg CO2eq) and was greatly intensified with burned deforestation (2.69 kg CO2eq). Milk production was the predominant deleterious factor for butter. For margarine there were two other distinct occasions, which were the manufacture when soy from the same region is used or the production with soybeans from a distant region deforested by burning.