Comparative life cycle assessment for conventional and organic coffee cultivation in Vietnam


Coffee production has been a major source of income in Vietnam since the early twentieth century. This research aims to identify the hot spots, estimate and compare the environmental effects of conventional intensive, conventional moderate and organic intensive coffee cultivation methods in Vietnam. Life cycle assessment was used for the determination of environmental effects and carbon footprint for different coffee cultivation methods from cradle to gate. Functional unit was defined as 1 kg of green Robusta coffee bean in Tan Ha Commune, Lam Ha District, Lam Dong Province. The environmental effects of coffee cultivation were compared by SimaPro 8.3.0, and the two impact assessment methods used were IPCC 2013 v1.03 and ReCiPe v1.13. The life cycle assessment results in hotspot assessment for fertilizer and pesticide application showed that the conventional intensive contributed 85.5% to global warming owing to the high input of manure, whereas conventional moderate and organic intensive contributed 80.4% and 68% to global warming, respectively, throughout the 30 years of cultivation. Moreover, endpoint impact result indicated that human health is most affected by coffee cultivation compared to resources and ecosystem. The carbon footprint result of 1-year average productivity showed that the conventional intensive (0.935 kg CO2e) method had the highest global warming potential in comparison with conventional moderate (0.729 kg CO2e) and organic intensive (0.644 kg CO2e) due to the highest amount of fertilizer application. This study demonstrated that conventional intensive has the highest impact on the environment, followed by conventional moderate and organic intensive. Therefore, it is important to optimize Vietnamese coffee cultivation methods in order to reduce the impact on the environment and human health, while producing sustainable coffee for the international and domestic market.

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We are grateful to Taiwan Ministry of Education for the funding to complete this research. We would like to show our gratitude to the Farmers Association of Tan Ha commune and the farmers who supported us during data collection stage.


This research was supported by Taiwan Ministry of Education for the research in Vietnam.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. H. Hu.

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The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Editorial responsibility: M. Abbaspour.



System boundaries

Figures 9, 10 and 11 present the system boundaries of CI, CM and OI.

Fig. 9

System boundary of CI coffee cultivation

Fig. 10

System boundary of CM coffee cultivation

Fig. 11

System boundary of OI coffee cultivation

Life cycle inventory data

Tables 3, 4 and 5 show the life cycle inventory data of CI, CM and OI cultivation.

Table 3 Inventory data of CI
Table 4 Inventory data of CM
Table 5 Inventory data of OI

Environmental hot spots of three cultivation methods

Figures 12, 13 and 14 show the environmental hot spots of three cultivation methods.

Fig. 12

Environmental hot spot of CI cultivation

Fig. 13

Environmental hot spot of CM cultivation

Fig. 14

Environmental hot spot of OI cultivation

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Trinh, L.T.K., Hu, A.H., Lan, Y.C. et al. Comparative life cycle assessment for conventional and organic coffee cultivation in Vietnam. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 17, 1307–1324 (2020).

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  • Environmental impact
  • Carbon footprint
  • Coffea canephora Robusta
  • Global warming potential
  • Human health
  • Sustainable coffee cultivation