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Environmental impact of beef
DCA rapport, nr. 61, 2015

Af Lisbeth Mogensen, John E. Hermansen, Lan Nguyen, Teodora Preda

It is well known, that the production of beef is related to a significant environmental impact, but also that there is a huge
variation in the way beef production takes place at the farm, and this impacts considerable on the environmental profile of the meat produced. Comparatively less is known on how this translates into the environmental impact of different beef products as they appear when leaving the slaughterhouse. In this work we established the life cycle impact of different types of meat and other beef products in relation to how they are marketed and dependent on the production system at the farm. It was the aim to cover the main types of beef production systems in Denmark, but also to show the influence of very different systems including some that are less common. In total we covered beef products from 13 different beef production systems and evaluated the environmental impact expressed per kg of edible product leaving the slaughterhouse (shortened meat) for each system. The major environmental burden is related to the farm level stage and innovations to reduce this impact should be given high attention. The slaughtering process itself is very energy- and resource efficient. A main innovation to reduce environmental impact of the meat produced will be to ensure a higher utilization of the animal into new edible products not conventionally produced. For beef products there is a significant tradeoff between impact on GWP and impact on biodiversity. The importance of this needs more attention.

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