A Life Cycle Assessment Application: The Carbon Footprint of Beef in Flanders (Belgium)

Part of the EcoProduction book series (ECOPROD)


Although several international carbon footprint (CF) calculation initiatives have been developed, studies that focus specifically on estimating the CF of beef are rather scarce. This chapter describes the application of a CF methodology based on the lifecycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions for Flemish beef production using the Publicly Available Specification methodology (PAS2050; BSI 2011), which is currently the most developed, profound, and relevant method for the agricultural and horticultural sectors. Both primary and secondary data were used to model the meat system by means of a chain approach. The results, which are reported using the functional unit of 1 kg deboned meat, range from 22.2 to 25.4 kg CO2 eq/kg of deboned beef meat. A sensitivity analysis on changes in herd and feed characteristics was conducted. Results were compared to other studies on the CF of beef in the EU and other livestock produce. Three major hotspots in the CF were revealed: rumen fermentation, the composition and production of feed, and manure production and usage, which contribute a lot to the overall CF. The CF is a good indicator of greenhouse gas emissions; however, it is not an indicator of the overall environmental impact of a product. This chapter helps to fill the void in CF literature that existed around beef products and to define a benchmark for the CF.


Beef Carbon footprint Greenhouse gases LCA Hotspots Sustainability 



This study was funded by the Flemish Administration, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The authors gratefully acknowledge this funding.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Bioscience EngineeringGhent UniversityGentBelgium

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