The Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of Dairy Products

  • Fehmi Görkem ÜçtuğEmail author
Review Article


Dairy products such as processed milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter are produced and consumed globally. While having several dietary and economic benefits, their production and consumption also have many environmental impacts of various nature. In this study, a comprehensive review of studies that focus on the life cycle environmental impact analysis of dairy products has been conducted. A total of 31 studies that satisfy certain filtering criteria have been analysed, covering 6 different products and 17 different impacts. Cheese was observed as the most widely studied dairy product whereas global warming potential was the most commonly calculated impact, as it appeared in all 31 of the reviewed studies. The contributions of different stages (raw milk production, factory processes, storage and use, transportation, waste treatment) have been investigated. For many impacts, raw milk production was found to be the main contributor regardless of the product type. Fertiliser use, agricultural material production and use and on-site emissions were the main drivers associated with the raw milk production stage, leading to several impacts such as global warming potential, acidification and eutrophication. As far as the production processes are concerned, energy use emerged as the main cause of environmental footprint. Transportation, storage/use and waste treatment were found to have slightly significant to negligible contributions to almost all the impacts except for ozone layer depletion. Butter appeared as the dairy product with the highest environmental footprint, followed by cheese. The most common recommendations in order to reduce the environmental footprint of dairy products were as follows: using more energy-efficient equipment for production, optimising transportation routes and using more environmentally friendly vehicles, modifying the feed content for the farm animals, and using renewable energy sources.


Dairy industry Energy use Environmental footprint Sustainability 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food EngineeringIzmir University of EconomicsBalçova – IzmirTurkey

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