The paper takes into account the sustainability issues linked to agri-food systems by deepening the so-called life cycle-based approaches as tools useful to characterize and quantify several impact typologies generated by all phases of a production process. To achieve the objectives of eco-compatibility, economic profitability and social well-being, the measurement of sustainability performances represents an essential requirement, as well as the need of increasingly innovative evaluation methods with holistic and all-embracing features. Even more so, in the evaluation of complex socio-environmental systems, like agricultural ones, uncertainty often arises and the quality of decision processes can be a high concern. Life Cycle Thinking (LCT), as conceptual framework, and its operative counterpart the Life Cycle Management (LCM) are characterized by a systemic approach useful to integrate sustainability priorities into all phases of production processes, by improving design, innovation and evaluation activities. LCM includes several analytical tools, more or less standardized or yet in working progress, which compose the so-called "tool box" including Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA), each one for the evaluation of the three different sustainability dimensions. This article aims to provide a brief overview of all life cycle methodologies by outlining the origin and evolution, the main features and potentiality of application in agri-food sector.
Keywords: Sustainability, agri-food systems, life cycle approaches, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Life Cycle Costing (LCC), Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA).
Anna Irene De Luca, Giacomo Falcone, Nathalie Iofrida, Teodora Stillitano, Alfio Strano, Giovanni Gulisano, in "RIVISTA DI STUDI SULLA SOSTENIBILITA'" 1/2015, pp. 135-150, DOI:10.3280/RISS2015-001009