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Life cycle assessment of products from agro-based companies in Uganda

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the fact that life cycle assessment (LCA) is a very vital tool, it has not been used in Uganda most likely because very little is known about it. In an attempt to initiate and promote LCA in Uganda, a partnership among Makerere University, selected agro-based companies, and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) was initiated with the broad aim of promoting life cycle thinking for improved agricultural products competitiveness on regional and international market. Specifically, the study focused on assessing and quantifying the environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of selected products.

Methods

Life cycle assessment tool was used to quantify environmental impacts including global warming, ecological toxicity, human toxicity, photochemical oxidation, and abiotic depletion. A detailed, process-based gate-to-gate (core process) LCA approach in accordance with ISO 14040, 14044 (ISO 2006a, b), PCR 2012:07 CPC 013 Fruits and nuts together with PCR 2011:08, CPC 2143 Fruit juices was conducted. The functional units have been redefined to; 1 litre of packaged juice ready for consumption and 1 kg of packaged dried fruits including the non-edible parts. Calculations at the farm stage involved calculations of net emission from land cover changes using; ΔC = Ʃ (activity data * emission factor). Calculations of N2O from manure management were obtained.

Results and discussion

Carbon dioxide emissions mainly result from the change of tree cover to crop fields and use of fossil fuel. The other impact categories (ecological toxicity, human toxicity, photochemical oxidation, and abiotic depletion) were brought about by the packaging material used. Results also showed that energy consumption was highest at the agricultural stage of dried pineapples processing and production/factory life cycle stage of sweet bananas. The main challenge during assessment was lack of records.

Conclusions

There is need for avoiding or minimizing the conversion of forest-covered land into agricultural land use due to the high-carbon emissions associated with the change, and for switching to renewable energy sources. There is need for a national database to support LCA efforts.

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Acknowledgments

We also thank Raul Carlson for the technical support and training in preparation and during the study. We are also grateful to Makerere University, the agro-based companies and Uganda National Bureau of Standards for institutional support that was very crucial for this study.

Funding

We thank Swedish Standards Institute for the funding that enabled us to carry out this study under the “Trade Promotion through Standardisation in the East African Region” project.

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Correspondence to Hawah Nambasa.

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Mfitumukiza, D., Nambasa, H. & Walakira, P. Life cycle assessment of products from agro-based companies in Uganda. Int J Life Cycle Assess 24, 1925–1936 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-019-01629-3

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Keywords

  • Agro-based
  • Dried
  • Juice
  • Mango
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet bananas
  • Uganda