Water Footprint Assessment of Food Loss and Waste Management Strategies in Spanish Regions

Autor(es): Ian Vázquez Rowe y Daniel Hoehn, María Margallo, Jara Laso, Israel Ruiz-Salmón, Ana Fernández-Ríos, Cristina Campos, Rubén Aldaco, Paula Quinteiro

The availability of freshwater is one of the biggest limitations and challenges of food production, as freshwater is an increasingly scarce and overexploited resource in many parts of the world. Therefore, the concept of water footprint (WF) has gained increasing interest, in the same way that the generation of food loss and waste (FLW) in food production and consumption has become a social and political concern. Along this line, the number of studies on the WF of the food production sector is currently increasing all over the world, analyzing water scarcity and water degradation as a single WF indicator or as a so-called WF profile. In Spain, there is no study assessing the influence of FLW generation along the whole food supply chain nor is there a study assessing the different FLW management options regarding the food supply chain’s WF. This study aimed to assess the spatially differentiated WF profile for 17 Spanish regions over time, analyzing the potential linkages of FLW management and water scarcity and water degradation. The assessment considered compliance and non-compliance with the Paris Agreement targets and was based on the life cycle assessment approach. Results are highlighted in a compliance framework; the scenarios found that anaerobic digestion and aerobic composting (to a lesser extent) had the lowest burdens, while scenarios with thermal treatment had the highest impact. Additionally, the regions in the north of Spain and the islands were less influenced by the type of FLW management and by compliance with the Paris Agreement targets.

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