A framework for evaluating life cycle eco-efficiency and an application in the confectionary and frozen-desserts sectors

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This paper presents a new framework for evaluating life cycle eco-efficiency of different products and sectors. The framework incorporates life cycle assessment, life cycle costing and multi-criteria decision analysis to enable estimations of the overall eco-efficiency and benchmarking of products and sectors. Overall, 17 eco-efficiency indicators are included in the framework, estimated as a ratio of life cycle environmental impacts and economic value added. The application of the framework is demonstrated by estimating the eco-efficiency in the confectionary and the frozen-desserts sectors in the UK, considering the following four product categories and sub-sectors: biscuits, cakes, chocolates and ice creams. In total, 18 products are evaluated. At the product level, and assuming equal weighting for all indicators, cupcakes are found to be the most eco-efficient and semi-sweet biscuits the least efficient products. By contrast, evaluation at the sub-sectoral level reveals chocolates as the best performing sub-sector, followed by cakes, ice cream and biscuits. The confectionary sector is overall three times more eco-efficient than the frozen-desserts sector. The rankings of the products are strongly dependent on the relative importance of the eco-efficiency indicators. However, the results are less sensitive to the weightings of indicators at the sub-sectoral and sectoral levels. This framework and the results will be of interest to industry for benchmarking and identifying opportunities for eco-efficiency improvements as well as to consumers for identifying more eco-efficient products.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-20312
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Early online date31 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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