The article “Carbon footprint and land use of oat and faba bean protein concentrates using a life cycle assessment approach” shows that fabaprotein concentrate has 80-90% lower carbon footprint than dairy proteins. Authors see the end of the article. Below some highlights:
Carbon footprints and land use of oat and faba bean protein concentrates were assessed using LCA.
Carbon footprint per kg protein of the oat protein concentrates is less than half of dairy proteins, while faba bean protein concentrate is approximately 80% lower.
Plant proteins have potential to reduce environmental impacts of food consumption.
There are overall environmental benefits in valorising current beta glucan processing co-products to high value protein products despite the energy intensive processing
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Vestkorn is a leading producer of faba bean protein in Europe.
There is a need to find sustainable alternative protein sources in order to meet the increasing protein demand of the growing population. Legumes such as faba beans are underutilized protein rich sources and can be valorized as hybrid protein ingredient through dry fractionation technologies. Also, cereal side streams can be interesting sources towards multifunctional protein ingredients.
The aim of this study was to assess the environmental impacts of the production of oat protein concentrate (OPC) and faba bean protein concentrate (FBC) using life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology and to compare the impact per kg protein to other relevant proteins. The OPC is obtained as a side stream of the beta glucan extraction process, which also produces valuable oat oil, while FBC is the only main product obtained from dehulled faba beans. Average European oat cultivation and faba bean cultivation with low and high yield were modelled. Data for protein concentrates production was from real factories who have suitable facilities, but are not currently producing concentrates commercially.
The major hotspot in the carbon footprint of oat protein concentrate comes from energy consumption in processing. For faba bean protein concentrate, energy consumption in processing is lower and cultivation of faba bean is the main hotspot.
The carbon footprint of oat protein concentrate is more than 50 percent lower, compared to dairy proteins per kg protein, while the carbon footprint of faba bean concentrate protein is 80–90 percent lower. Compared to legume protein sources, OPC has four times higher impacts. This is mainly due to the lower amount of processing steps needed to reach high protein content concentrates from faba beans resulting mainly from relatively lower level of lipids, which enables more energy-efficient dry separation, and high initial protein content of legumes compared to cereals. Moreover, legume cultivation requires very little nitrogen fertilizers due to symbiotic N2 fixation.
This study shows that OPC and FBC have lower carbon footprints than animal protein sources. However, it should be remembered, that the environmental impacts of OPC are very sensitive to the allocation method and allocation basis. In this study economic allocation was used and prices of the different products (OPC, oat oil and beta glucan) play a key role in defining the climate impacts of OPC.
Natural Resources Institute Finland, POB 2, FI-00791, Helsinki, FinlandbVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, POB 1000, FI-02044, VTT, FinlandcAarhus University, Department of Agroecology, Blichers Allé 20, DK-8830, Tjele, Denmark