Project Leader: Professor Adisa Azapagic
Project Duration: January 2009 - December 2011.
The aim of this research has been to develop an integrated life cycle methodology and assess the sustainability in the UK beverage sector considering environmental, economic and social aspects. The environmental impacts include climate change, resource depletion and emissions to air, land and water. The economic aspects considered are life cycle costs and value added. Social issues include health, labour and human rights and intergenerational issues. The environmental impacts have been assessed using life cycle assessment; economic impacts have been assessed using life cycle costing and value added analysis while social aspects have been assessed using relevant social indicators and social hot-spots analysis. The sustainability of the following beverages has been assessed: carbonated soft drinks, beer (lager), wine (red), bottled water and Scotch whisky. The environmental and economic assessments have first been carried out at the level of individual supply chains. The results have then been extrapolated using a bottom-up approach to the level of their respective sub-sectors and then, combining these results, to the UK beverage sector. This has been followed by the social assessment at the sectoral level.
The results of the assessment at the sectoral level show that UK consumption of the five beverages is responsible for over 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 eq. emissions annually, with the carbonated soft drinks and beer sub-sectors accounting for 42% and 40% of the total, respectively. Total annual life cycle costs and value added are estimated at £1.3 billion and £15.8 billion, respectively. Production of packaging and raw materials are the major hot spots in the life cycle of the beverage supply chain for environmental and economic impacts. Strategies such as technological improvements, packaging optimisation as well as organic agriculture would lead to improved environmental and economic performance. The social hot spot assessment shows that China, Colombia and India are the countries likely to pose highest social risks. The findings of this study could help the government and beverage manufacturers to formulate appropriate policies and robust strategies for improving the sustainability in the UK beverage sector. The results could also help consumers to make more informed choices that contribute to sustainable development.
This project is completed and the PhD dissertation can be found here.