Environmental Footprinting: Assessing Agriculture's Environmental Impact

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 Sustainably sourced goods and services are gaining popularity in the marketplace. In order to achieve more sustainable production, members of the entire supply chain are looking for ways to increase efficiencies and decrease their negative environmental impacts. Retailers are helping drive this search by requiring documentation from their suppliers in regards to their sustainability, as well as adopting sustainability strategies within their companies. Producers starting to respond to retailer needs, and by satisfying these new requirements, they are realizing the economic and environmental benefits of adapting, and adopting more sustainable production practices.

Environmental Footprinting (EF) is a method being used to determine the impacts of a product or process in many industries and countries. It can assist with decision making and enable effective environmental management for direct market and economic benefits. EF work can also contribute to addressing agriculture’s climatic, energy, water and land use challenges.

Along with retailer and producer initiatives, groups such as government, NGOs, and other third party organizations are working on common terminology, EF boundaries, and methodologies. This movement is global in scale, and many of these initiatives aim to coordinate information from research that is happening around the world.

To address some of these emerging needs, ARD is working on an initiative to better understand and quantify the environmental impacts of the Alberta agri-food industry. Through the use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), this effort will ultimately lead to cradle-to-farm-gate environmental footprints of four major agri-food commodities in Alberta: canola, chicken, egg and potato1 .

Want more information?
Below are six information bulletins available for you to download. These bulletins provide information on ARD’s footprinting project, retailer sustainability strategies, primary production EF initiatives, and third party EF work.

Agri-Food Footprinting in Alberta (2,183 KB pdf)

Primary Production Footprinting Initiatives (2,470 KB pdf)

Sustainability in the Food and Retail Sector (2,787 KB pdf)

Who's Leading the Way (1,373 KB pdf)

Considering the Three Pillars of Sustainability (1,290 KB pdf)

Water Footprinting (2,790 KB pdf)

1 Initiated by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, funding for this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Agricultural Flexibility Fund, as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Kerrianne Koehler-Munro.
This document is maintained by Laura Thygesen.
This information published to the web on August 21, 2012.
Last Reviewed/Revised on August 3, 2017.