Eco-Efficiency of Milk Production in Poland Using the Life Cycle Assessment Methodologies

Jerzy Bienkowski, Rafal Baum, Malgorzata Holka
European Research Studies Journal, Volume XXIV, Issue 1, 890-912, 2021
DOI: 10.35808/ersj/2002


Purpose: The main objective of the study was to perform an environmental and economic evaluation of milk production in the main production types pursued by Polish farms. The second objective was to analyze the eco-efficiency of milk production. Design/Methodology/Approach: The study was conducted in a group of 24 farms, among which 15 farms focused on milk production and 9 farms conducted mixed livestock production (milk production and pig fattening). The data for the study concerned the period 2017-2018. Cattle was raised in a closed breeding cycle. Fat stocks was supplied by calves born on the farms. Life cycle assessment (LCA) at the stage from cradle-to-farm gate and LCC were used for environmental impact assessment. The functional unit was 1 kg raw milk corrected for fat and protein (FPCM). The studied environmental profile was applied to five categories of impacts: climate change (GWP100), acidification (AP), eutrophication (EP), abiotic resource depletion potential for fossil fuels (ADP fuel), abiotic resource depletion potential for minerals (ADP min) and photochemical ozone creation potential (POCP). Findings: A farming type specializing in milk production showed a more favourable environmental profile compared to the mixed livestock type. The group of processes responsible for generating direct emissions in cattle raising (enteric fermentation and manure management) had the greatest impact on GWP100 and AP. Imported feed and home grown feed contributed much to ADP fuel, ADP min and EP. The higher eco-efficiency of milk production was recorded for the milk farming type. In the type of mixed livestock farming, both the reduction of total environmental impact and costs should be the primary factors in improving the eco-efficiency of milk production. Practical Implications: Attention should be paid to the practical importance of eco-efficiency analysis, which, so far, has been an insufficiently used measurement tool for achieving targets in sustainable milk production. Originality/value: In the article we propose the evaluation of eco-efficiency of milk production by considering both environmental and economic impacts from the life cycle perspective.

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