Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Life Cycle Thinking: A New Approach to Environmental and Nutritional Assessment of Potato Chips

24 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2022

See all articles by Ana Fernández-Ríos

Ana Fernández-Ríos

University of Cantabria

Jara Laso

University of Cantabria

Francisco José Amo-Setién

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Rebeca Abajas

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Carmen Ortego

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Pere Fullana-i-Palmer

Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Renmin University of China - School of International Studies

Alba Bala

Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Renmin University of China - School of International Studies

Laura Batlle-Bayer

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Merce Balcells

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Rita Puig

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ruben Aldaco

University of Cantabria

María Margallo

University of Cantabria

Abstract

Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus has become a key concept to promote the cross-sectoral coordination towards sustainable development. In particular, understanding the interdependences of these pillars, as well as addressing a life cycle perspective, is essential when evaluating food production systems. This study explores the environmental impacts and nutritional quality of potato chips, addressing a life cycle thinking and a WEF nexus approach. For this purpose, the combined application of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and the Nutrient Rich Food 9.3 (NRF9.3) index was considered, in order to identify the main environmental hotspots and advanced opportunities. The results indicated a major contribution of the cultivation stage on water use and freshwater eutrophication associated to the irrigation water, whereas the processing accounted for most of impacts in energy-related indicators (climate change and fossil resource use), and marine eutrophication, mainly due to the use of diesel and sunflower oil. Improvement opportunities reside in the joint application of drip irrigation, allowing to achieve important water savings, and the use of natural gas or pellets instead of diesel, which constitute cleaner energy sources. On the other hand, a poor nutritional density of potato chips became evident by the quantification of the NRF9.3, which can be significantly improved if potatoes undergo a roasted process instead of frying. However, these benefits can only become real with the active collaboration and involvement of both producers and consumers, enabling the promotion of a healthier and more sustainable food sector.

Keywords: Climate Change, healthy snack, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Nutrient Rich Food 9.3 (NRF9.3), processed product, Sustainability

Suggested Citation

Fernández-Ríos, Ana and Laso, Jara and Amo-Setién, Francisco José and Abajas, Rebeca and Ortego, Carmen and Fullana-i-Palmer, Pere and Bala, Alba and Batlle-Bayer, Laura and Balcells, Merce and Puig, Rita and Aldaco, Ruben and Margallo, María, Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Life Cycle Thinking: A New Approach to Environmental and Nutritional Assessment of Potato Chips. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4012468 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4012468

Ana Fernández-Ríos

University of Cantabria ( email )

Jara Laso

University of Cantabria ( email )

Francisco José Amo-Setién

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Rebeca Abajas

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Carmen Ortego

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Pere Fullana-i-Palmer

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Renmin University of China - School of International Studies ( email )

Alba Bala

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Renmin University of China - School of International Studies ( email )

Laura Batlle-Bayer

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Merce Balcells

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Rita Puig

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Ruben Aldaco (Contact Author)

University of Cantabria ( email )

María Margallo

University of Cantabria ( email )

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