Insight into the environmental impact of the food basket of an island: case study of Aruba. Challenges and solutions in moving from an exploratory analysis towards a more detailed analysis.


This research focuses on calculating the environmental impact, such as carbon footprint, of the food basket of an island, by using life cycle analysis. The scientific field of assessing the environmental impact of food systems and of food consumption is growing rapidly. Assessments often occur at a global, continental, national or occasionally provincial level, but with fewer studies at an island level. The functional unit of this study is: Food basket of Aruba in 2019, at the end of the professional part (retail / restaurant) of the food chain. The food basket of Aruba consists of approximately 99% imports, and very limited local food production and local fish catches, and a limited amount of export. Drinking water and impact from food losses and waste will also be taken into account. In preparation of the detailed assessment of the environmental impact we have performed an exploratory analysis which shows the environmental hotspots of food groups within Aruba’s food basket. These hotspots indicate where extra attention might be necessary in the more detailed analysis. This more detailed analysis will then give insight into the contribution of different life cycle phases (e.g. agriculture, air transport, waste management etc.), as well as the contribution of different food groups to the total environmental impact of Aruba’s food basket. These results can form the basis for strategic decisions towards more sustainable and more circular food chains, food choices, and food systems. This oral presentation will show the results of the exploratory analysis. Then we will focus on challenges and solutions in calculating the environmental impact of a food basket, with special attention to island-related features. Challenges at different stages of the research process will be outlined: challenges in carrying out the first analysis, challenges in moving forward to a more detailed analysis, and (expected) challenges in carrying out the more detailed analysis. Challenges include data availability of the complete chain leading to products in Aruba’s food basket, and data availability, quality, comparability, and transparency related with environmental impact models.


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