Assessment of the environmental impacts of food products that are produced and consumed in large amounts globally is crucial to promote sustainability. The main objective of this study was to assess the environmental impact of two brined vegetables through life cycle assessment. Six different impacts were calculated. The analysis of both products, pickled cucumbers and roasted capia peppers, was performed under a cradle-to-grave approach, and five stages of their life cycle were considered: raw material supply, production of both products, transportation, use and end-of-life treatment. On average, roasted capia peppers were found to have approximately twice the environmental impact that pickled cucumbers has, mostly due to the additional roasting step that consumes significant amount of natural gas. As far as the contributions of different stages are concerned, cultivation of the vegetables and the production of the packaging materials (glass jars and steel lids) were found to be the main contributors to the environmental impacts. A sensitivity analysis showed that only acidification potential was sensitive to the changes in the source of electricity required for the processes or the source of glass used for jar production. Transportation distance was found to significantly affect eutrophication and ozone layer depletion potentials in the case of pickled cucumbers, and the latter increased by more than 100% when the transportation distance increased from 50 to 1100 km. This paper tries to highlight the potential benefits of the use of life cycle assessment to provide a starting point for both pickled vegetable manufacturers and their suppliers.
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Editorial responsibility: Agnieszka Galuszka.
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Gül, H., Üçtuğ, F.G. & Güngörmüşler, M. Environmental life cycle assessment of industrially produced pickled and roasted vegetables. Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 19, 8751–8768 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13762-021-03740-1