The European Starch Industry Association has recently published a life cycle assessment of starch products, making it one of the first industry sectors in the agri-food industry to publish an LCA study covering a range of products.
Some of the findings are interesting:
- the growing of the crops for starch product (wheat, corn and potatoes) has the largest contribution to the environmental footprint of the final product.
- use of starch in long life cycle industrial products can have a significant net positive carbon footprint (ie. over the product lifecycle, more carbon is sequestered than is used).
- water depletion is a significant environmental factor in production of starch, mostly in the crop phase.
The environmental profiles in the report include both native starch and glucose-fructose syrups. The report is also useful because it includes a fairly understandable description of the application of LCA techniques to processed products derived from agriculture.
This work by the starch industry may encourage other food sectors to undertake LCA studies and to use the results to reduce the environmental impact of the food system.
A copy of the summary report is available at http://www.aaf-eu.org/pdf/2012-08,%20Eco-profile%20of%20starch%20products%20-%20summary%20report.pdf
A press release summarizing the report is at http://www.aaf-eu.org/html/aaf_news.php