Embedding Sustainability Into the Wine Sector Through the Application of Life Cycle Management Tools

Andres Eduardo Valero, Purdue University


According to the United Nations, by 2050, if we keep the current natural resources usage trend, we will require three planets to support the lifestyle of 9.6 billion people. Undoubtedly to overcome this challenge is necessary we change not only our consumption pattern but also how the production system works. In one hand a systemic approach is required to reduce natural resources demand and degradation while increasing social welfare along the whole lifecycle of each of our economic activities. On the other hand, the member of the society needs to acknowledge the environmental, social, and economic impact of their lifestyle and the contribution of the goods and services they consume to these impacts. From producer to consumer, decision making in favor of sustainable development required the availability of comprehensive and useful information. Numerous tools have been developed to support sustainable decision making. Nonetheless, its implementation in an industry-specific sector is complex and challenging. This Master thesis aims to explore the usefulness of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology to support different decision-making levels in the wine sector and its potential role to contribute to achieving sustainable development in the sector. For this thesis, the primary emphasis is placed on the environmental pillar of sustainability. We selected the wine sector due to its potential to become a model of sustainable development for the food and beverage sector. On one size, wine has great exposure in society worldwide. Wine is one of the first agro-industrial goods to be produced and traded by humans. Furthermore, wine consumption is rooted in diverse cultures, countries, and social groups around the globe. On the other size, wine is a product vulnerable to the effect of climate change. To keep the sector profitability, producers will need to identify and implement practices for reducing resource use, degradation, and pollution. Moreover, in contrast to other products, how and where wine is made it is relevant to consumers. Engaging consumer to prioritize sustainable attributes when buying wine can have an enormous repercussion on the wine sector and its supply chain. For this to happen, it is essential to gather the adequate information and generate representative, concise, and manageable metric for sustainability. Hence, the implementation of LCA as a tool to support sustainable decision making in the wine sector can contribute to the effective implementation of sustainable business practices and consumer behavior. This thesis has the following structure: Chapter 1: Life Cycle Management and its tools as a framework for managing sustainability in the wine sector. The chapter reviews the current status of sustainability in the wine sector and how the Life Cycle Management (LCM) approach can be a suitable framework for the improvement of the sector sustainability. Moreover, this section summarized the available standards for the sectorial adaptation of LCM’s tools such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Carbon and Water footprint. Finally, this section reviews academic articles and case of studies of the usage of these tools in the sector, concluding the need for advancing on unifying criteria to allow product comparability and the importance of developing a single multicriteria indicator for communicating results. Chapter 2: Toward the development of Sustainable Wine Scoring System(SWSS). A comparative multivariable LCA approach of the environmental performance of Craft Wineries in Indiana. The chapter evaluates the environmental performance of a bottle of wine produced by seven different supply chain scenarios: five for a limited production Craft Winery in Indiana, and two for a medium-sized winery in California. Transportation and the field management during grape growing are the primary contributors to most of the impact categories under evaluation. The production of the glass bottle also shows to be a notable contributor to the environmental impact. Moreover, the article proposes a first approach to defining a Sustainable Wine Scoring System representing the environmental profile of the bottle of wine for different impact categories by normalizing and averaging the result for each impact category. Chapter 3: Application of LCA as a “design for the environment” tool for the project of establishing a vineyard and growing grapes in two American Viticulture Areas in the USA. In this chapter, LCA is used to analyze the influence of location and alternative practice on the environmental profile at the planning stage of a project for establishing and growing grapes for 25 years in the USA. The specific soil and weather condition of the location where the vineyard is planned to be established will change the environmental profile of the project. The implementation of alternative practices considers sustainable have...




Sutherland, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Food Science|Sustainability|Environmental engineering

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