Following the ProCEedS mid-term review as well as individual departmental presentations, TN secondment was culminated into a case study that was submitted to an academic journal in July. Moving away from the traditional life-cycle assessment (LCA) approach which solely focuses on the emissions linked to a process, the objective of this paper was twofold; first, to assess the environmental performance of the company’s production process while attempting a social reading of LCA results and second, to discuss related implications following the identification of adopted circular economy (CE) practices. Exploring different strategies towards reducing meat additive surpluses, we aim to contribute to the enrichment of circular economy related literature in the context of food supply chains while shading light on the underexplored yet paramount food additives industry in the interface between the stages of primary production and processing.
The LCA analysis showed that TN’s production process is characterised by minor local burdens, with the highest impact contributions being linked to mix properties and use of plastic packaging. Therefore, to assess the potential to minimise its environmental impact attention was placed on the identification and assessment of implemented CE practices. The long shelf life of used ingredients as well as the ability to use them in different mixes, has provided to the company the ability to reach high levels of production efficiency while achieving a good level of stock rotation. While TN has adopted a wide array of remanufacturing, redistribution, and repackaging practices, interviews with the top management revealed that a considerable amount of waste was seasonal and linked to poor transportation conditions. Having outsourced all logistical operations to third-party providers, the company has limited control over storage conditions which, along with high temperatures during the summer months result in the deterioration of products’ quality. Acknowledging these inefficiencies, we propose certain approaches in order to minimise the impact of these issues such as, regional synergies with industries that could utilise certain raw material surpluses as well as a cost-benefit analysis that could help TN to assess the potential of developing its own logistical fleet.
From a theoretical standpoint, the case study attempts to highlight and communicate the central idea of “narrowing” (reduce), not only “slowing” (reuse) or closing (recycle) which constitutes the central, yet often overlooked core of CE thinking.
For now, we look forward to the editor’s decision.