Life Cycle Assessment Interpretation and Improvement of the Sicilian Artichokes Production

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Department of Quality and Operations Management, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

2 Department of Economics and Business, University of Catania, Catania, Italy

3 External collaborator of the Department of Economics and Business, University of Catania, Catania, Italy


This paper presents the results obtained from the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the production
of Sicilian artichokes (Cynara scolymus) with the aim of reducing impacts, interpreting the results, suggesting possible improvements and enriching the sustainability knowledge already existing in the agro food field. Artichokes represent one of the excellent Italian agricultural products even if still not well-known and not appreciated despite their nutritional and functional quality. According to FAOSTAT (2013) data, Italy is the world leader in artichokes production, grown mainly in the central and southern regions of Italy, in particular in Sicily, Apulia and Sardinia. In particular, among all the Italian regions, Sicily, which is highly suited for this type of cultivation, is ranked first in terms of quantity produced: the reason for this lies in the excellent combination of climate and geological conformation of the soils. The study was conducted in accordance with the ISO standards 14040 and 14044 (2006), with the functional unit of 1 ha of land and, as the system boundaries being the phases of: pre-implantation preparation of the field; artichoke implantation; and harvesting. The most impacting phases are those related with the consumption of fuel and fertilizers as well as with the use of the PVC pipes for irrigation. Possible improvements could be the use of methanol instead of the naphtha (reduction of the total damage of about 13%) and the possibility of recycling the PVC pipes once the field is dismantled (furthermore reduction of the damage of about 3%).