Reducing the carbon footprint of dried organic pasta

30 August 2019

Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, popular worldwide owing to its convenience, versatility and nutritional value. About 14.3 million metric tons of pasta is produced annually worldwide, with 22.7% of the total being produced in Italy.

Owing largely to the consumption of pasta, Italy has one of the largest water footprints of the world.

Several studies have assessed the environmental impact of, in particular, dry durum wheat semolina pasta.

A recent study in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, assessed the business-to-consumer carbon footprint (CFCG) of dry decorticated organic durum wheat semolina pasta. It explored 1kg of the product, packed in 0.5 kg polypropylene bags by a South Italian medium-sized pasta factory.

The resource and energy inputs and yield outputs were explored for the many steps involved in the cradle-to-grave footprint of the pasta, including:-
  • durum wheat cultivation
  • durum wheat milling
  • pasta making
  • packaging and transportation
  • consumer phase
  • post-consumption waste management.

Whereas business-to-business carbon footprint (CFCDC) was mostly conditioned by the greenhouse gases emitted throughout durum wheat cultivation, CFCG was mainly dependent on the use and post-consumption phases. CFCG was particularly affected by the pasta types and packing formats used.

Several promising strategies were identified by authors from Tuscia University, Italy, in the article that could reduce the overall GHG emissions of pasta production and consumption:

  • more eco-sustainable cooking practices to limit energy and water usage,
  • minimizing the emissions associated with organic durum wheat production through lower impacting cultivation techniques,
  • and the use of renewable energy in the manufacture and cooking of dry pasta. 

In addition, by shifting from road to rail freight transport and shortening the supply logistics of dry pasta and grains, a further reduction in CFCG can be achieved.

Read more in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture:

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