The aim of this study is twofold: (i) to provide an LCA of raw cow milk production systems from the two most representative states (Paraná and Minas Gerais) for milk production in Brazil considering four impact categories according to product category rules of raw milk; and (ii) to analyze the environmental performance of milk produced in Brazil (at the farm-gate) with that of milk produced in other parts of the world (at the farm-gate) based on valid EPDs of processed whole milk and LCA studies of milk in the existing literature. For building life cycle inventories, agricultural processes and activities associated with milk production were mapped out. Three milk production systems in Brazil were assessed, one confined, and two semi-confined, in two different regions, within Minas Gerais and Paraná states. The functional unit used in this study was 1 kg of fat and protein corrected milk. Moreover, an analysis of the environmental performance of milk produced in Brazil with that of milk produced in other parts of the world based on valid EPDs of processed milk was made. LCA results and the results obtained from the valid EPDs used different life cycle impact assessment methods (IPCC 2013IPCC 2013; CML, ReCiPE) and impact categories (climate change, acidification potential, eutrophication, formation potential of tropospheric ozone). The raw milk (cradle-to-farm-gate) produced in Brazil (in different states and based on different systems - confined or semi-confined) has lower environmental impacts when associated with those (cradle-to-farm-gate) of published EPDs. The study also briefly compared the results of Brazilian milk production systems with cradle-to-farm-gate LCAs of raw milk found in the literature, and discussed a few strategies for the Brazilian market of milk and dairy products. MPS in Brazil can serve as a benchmark for MPS in other countries, and EPDs can add transparency to business-to-business and business-to-consumer relations.
- Life cycle assessment
- Environmental impacts
- Raw milk
- Environmental product declaration