Article – Life cycle costing of food waste: A review of methodological approaches

De Menna, F., Dietershagen, J., Loubiere, M., & Vittuari, M. (2018). Life cycle costing of food waste: A review of methodological approaches. Waste Management.
Food waste (FW) is a global problem that is receiving increasing attention due to its environmental and economic impacts. Appropriate FW prevention, valorization, and management routes could mitigate or avoid these effects. Life cycle thinking and approaches, such as life cycle costing (LCC), may represent suitable tools to assess the sustainability of these routes. This study analyzes different LCC methodological aspects and approaches to evaluate FW management and valorization routes. A systematic literature review was carried out with a focus on different LCC approaches, their application to food, FW, and waste systems, as well as on specific methodological aspects. The review consisted of three phases: a collection phase, an iterative phase with experts’ consultation, and a final literature classification. Journal papers and reports were retrieved from selected databases and search engines. The standardization of LCC methodologies is still in its infancy due to a lack of consensus over definitions and approaches. Research on the life cycle cost of FW is limited and generally focused on FW management, rather than prevention or valorization of specific flows. FW prevention, valorization, and management require a consistent integration of LCC and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to avoid tradeoffs between environmental and economic impacts. This entails a proper investigation of methodological differences between attributional and consequential modelling in LCC, especially with regard to functional unit, system boundaries, multi-functionality, included cost, and assessed impacts. Further efforts could also aim at finding the most effective and transparent categorization of costs, in particular when dealing with multiple stakeholders sustaining costs of FW. Interpretation of results from LCC of FW should take into account the effect on larger economic systems. Additional key performance indicators and analytical tools could be included in consequential approaches.

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