Circular economy, the Italian zootechnics create no waste

The agro-food sector is the most complex industrial field because the study of the impacts must always take into account the numerous interactions of the various supply chains. But one thing is clear: in Italy the zootechnic field makes virtually no waste.

This is even more important when producing meat and cured meats: the farms often use organic fertilizers such as manure from the breeding farms which are then used for producing feed from agricultural waste or processing industrial by-products. Beef comes from one of the most complex systems, since it must take into account meat, milk and leather simultaneously: the impact calculation of each of them must comply with the allocation rules of environmental loads among the various systems.

In order to make studies comparable and repeatable, it is essential that these rules are transparent and possibly made according to a public and international path validation and international such as that initiated by the International EPD System, which has been operating in this field for many years and was first to publish the Product Category Rules (PCR) for meat. In fact, the rules for allocation rules for distributing the impacts between the various products of the supply chain under study are described indetail in the PCR.

As regards to the adult cattle supply chain, the total environmental impact is divided between the brood cow, bred only for reproductive purposes, and all the products and by-products that are obtained from her: the brood cow (her meat, skin and fat) and the calves born during her years of activity.

The availability of common calculation rules has made it possible to certify and publish the results of LCA studies with Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) as the retail company Coop Italy did in 2013 and the major Italian beef producer Inalca did in 2015.

The need to create common rules and to integrate the different sectors also prompted the European Union to promote the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) method in 2013 with the aim of defining a common methodology for calculating the environmental impacts of a product at European level.

The Sustainable Meat Project

The "Sustainable Meats" Project aims to identify the key topics, the state of knowledge and the most recent technical scientific trends, with the aim of showing that meat production and consumption can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment.