Life cyle assessment of margarine production from palm oil in Ghana

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100 % palm oil-based margarine has an outstanding demand by consumers as it is considered one of the spreads with beneficial nutritional value. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an excellent tool of environmental management and it provides a widespread knowledge on the environmental burdens associated with a product or human activity. International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards, ISO 14040-43, were followed in the execution of this work. Adequate data for inventory phase was obtained from different factories and farms. Through developed questionnaires submitted to the oil palm producer, TOPP (the largest supplier of crude palm oil to Unilever Ghana Limited) and Unilver Ghana Limited ( sole palm oil refiner and margarine producer in Ghana as of the time of data collection), and from Eco-invent database, inventory data was constantly sought for time duration of one year. Five phases of the 100 % palm oil-based margarine were studied namely oil palm production, palm oil production, palm oil refining and margarine production. LCA data associated with these phases were analysed by employing the GABI Software that was sponsored by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) through the Life Cycle Initiative. The impact assessment method used in this study was the CML 2001 that was produced by Centre of Environmental Science of Leiden University. The analysis of these data by LCA has made it possible to quantify potential impact associated with 100 % palm oil-based margarine production. Seven impact categories were considered namely acidification potential, eutrophication potential, global warming potential, fresh water ecotoxicity potential, human toxicity potential, photochemical ozone creation potential and terrestrial ecotoxicity potential. Characterisation of the data revealed that the oil-refining phase posed the highest environmental burden. Since the product life cycle has a global coverage (e.g. resource extraction in diverse geographical regions), global data or normal values were compared with data for this work. Normalising the characterised environmental interventions revealed that acidification potential, eutrophication potential, global warming potential and photochemical ozone creation potential need mitigation measures when compared to global emissions. Two mitigating measures were recommended: anaerobic reactor system to reduce high organic load in wastewater due to oil losses at the oil production, refining and margarine phases; gas scrubbing system inclusion to reduce the emissions of CO2 and SO2 gases at the steam boiler houses at the oil refining and oil production phases. Inclusion of these mitigating systems can lead to 19.1 % reduction of global normalised environmental impact.
A Thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science