Life cycle assessment and environmental claims in the Canadian context: an Ontario sheep case study
Life cycle assessment (LCA) has emerged as an important tool in quantifying and reducing the environmental footprint of human activities, specifically greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The potential for governments and organizations in tackling climate change through market intervention and technological innovation is well-recognized, but the role consumers play in mitigating climate change through product consumption (i.e., demand-side approaches) has received less attention. Despite the stance of Canadian governments on the encouragement of sustainable commerce, resources available for businesses – especially small businesses – wanting to make environmental claims on their products is scarce.
This study presents a framework for using LCA to make environmental claims (ecolabelling) in the Canadian context using Ontario sheep production as a case study. A parametric, attributional LCA model using Ontario-specific primary data on sheep farming, collected from 23 farms, is used to quantify life cycle impacts from feed production, livestock emissions and farm operations associated with Ontario sheep production. Parameter screening through sensitivity analysis of the LCA model is used to identify influential farming practices and create alternate production scenarios representing `environmentally friendly' practices. Improvements in the environmental performance among production scenarios, gauged through uncertainty analysis, are used to substantiate environmental claims on the primary product of sheep production in Ontario: sheep meat. The use of LCA and the proposed sensitivity / uncertainty methods in making self-declared environmental claims i) allows producers to minimize and advertise the environmental footprint of their production, and ii) satisfies the ecolabelling requirements of accuracy, specificity, and verifiability (replicability) imposed by Canadian authorities.
Bhatt, A., & Abbassi, B. (2022a). Life cycle impacts of sheep sector in Ontario, Canada. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-022-02105-1
Bhatt, A., & Abbassi, B. (2022b). Relative sensitivity value (RSV): A metric for measuring input parameter influence in life cycle assessment modeling. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, ieam.4701. https://doi.org/10.1002/ieam.4701