An EU project is aiming to put in place new sustainable food processing measures for the industry after the current life cycle analysis (LCA) system was labeled “time-consuming”.
The project, ICT tools greening food processing businesses, aims for small and medium enterprises to adopt affordable and simple eco-friendly processes, while highlighting the least effective methods.
The ICT-based system will provide assessment and decision support for eco-innovation in the food processing industry, with the target of boosting Europe’s position in the marketplace.
It will use a wireless sensors network (WSN) to continuously monitor effluents and other environmentally relevant indicators.
Concerns had been raised that environmental management was not top of some firms’ agendas due to the level of human and financial resources.
Co-ordinator of the project, Amaia Uriarte, told FoodProductionDaily.com the old system was inefficient.
“Current LCA methodologies and tools are time consuming, mainly used by SMEs as a consultancy service of external experts.
New methods to measure sustainability
“The main objective of the project was the development of [a] technological and managerial model, allowing the analysis, modelling and monitoring of processing systems of vegetable and fruit products.
“Regarding the life cycle database, the objective is to analyse those products/processes of the meat and drink industry, [whose] related life cycle inventory data, are nowadays missing from existing databases,” said Uriarte.
“For all those products/processes of the meat and drink industry identified as lacking of related life cycle inventory data, a bibliographical research of environmental impacts related to them will be performed.”
The GIST project consortium is being led by Inkoa Sistemas, a Spanish-based firm who specialise in product quality, safety, profitability and sustainability of processes for the food sector, in collaboration with various Spanish, Italian and French companies.
It hopes to help SMEs interested in subjecting their production processes to LCA and incorporating techniques to enhance sustainability.
Uriarte, also a research, technology and development project manager at Inkoa Sistemas added that the project is estimated to impact 18,500 SMEs.
“The software application includes a simplified life cycle assessment methodology adapted to the needs of SMEs (simplicity of use and the specificity).
“The key factor is the identification and analysis of the less efficient points and the identification of focused prevention and minimisation options,” she added.