Red meat production in australia: life cycle assessment and comparison with overseas studies

Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Feb 15;44(4):1327-32. doi: 10.1021/es901131e.


Greenhouse gas emissions from beef production are a significant part of Australia's total contribution to climate change. For the first time an environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) hybridizing detailed on-site process modeling and input-output analysis is used to describe Australian red meat production. In this paper we report the carbon footprint and total energy consumption of three supply chains in three different regions in Australia over two years. The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy use data are compared to those from international studies on red meat production, and the Australian results are either average or below average. The increasing proportion of lot-fed beef in Australia is favorable, since this production system generates lower total GHG emissions than grass-fed production; the additional effort in producing and transporting feeds is effectively offset by the increased efficiency of meat production in feedlots. In addition to these two common LCA indicators, in this paper we also quantify solid waste generation and a soil erosion indicator on a common basis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Greenhouse Effect*
  • Meat*


  • Carbon Dioxide