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Evolution of the Total Environmental Impact of the Barley Malt Beer Chain in Finland
Y. Virtanen and T. Sinkko

Total life cycle environmental impact assessment of Finnish beer was updated and analysed for changes over a six-year period, from 2002 to 2008, in order to identify the main factors behind the ecological evolution of the chain. This information is potentially useful for planning future improvements in the brewing industry. Environmental impacts were assessed based on life cycle analysis (LCA), and total environmental impact was assessed by weighting impact of different impact categories. The impact categories included in and analysed for the total environmental impact were: primary energy consumption, climate change, acidification, formation of tropospheric ozone, and aquatic eutrophication. The data were regenerated from up-to-date site-specific production figures for the input-output models of the key processes of the chain. The results showed that total environmental impact (Eco-Benchmark value) was reduced by 7 %. Many trade-offs contribute to this general trend, both for various categories of environmental impacts and for different activity-sectors of the chain. Total environmental impact decreased for fertilizer and lime production, malting and starch barley production on farms, malting and brewing, as well as for the transportation of intermediate products. Together these activity sectors brought about a 12 % reduction in the total environmental impact. The biggest reduction was for brewing. Total environmental impact increased for beer logistics, sales and consumption, and for barley starch production. Together the contribution of these sectors was +5 %. According to the results of the analysis, evolution in the brewing chain has been favourable from the environmental point of view.

Descriptors: LCA, environmental impact, barley, malting, brewing

BrewingScience Monatsschrift fr Brauwissenschaft, 65 (May/June 2012), pp. 60-64