In this study, an artificial neural network (ANN) model was developed for predicting the yield and life cycle environmental impacts based on energy inputs required in processing of black tea, green tea, and oolong tea in Guilan province of Iran. A life cycle assessment (LCA) approach was used to investigate the environmental impact categories of processed tea based on the cradle to gate approach, i.e., from production of input materials using raw materials to the gate of tea processing units, i.e., packaged tea. Thus, all the tea processing operations such as withering, rolling, fermentation, drying, and packaging were considered in the analysis. The initial data were obtained from tea processing units while the required data about the background system was extracted from the EcoInvent 2.2 database. LCA results indicated that diesel fuel and corrugated paper box used in drying and packaging operations, respectively, were the main hotspots. Black tea processing unit caused the highest pollution among the three processing units. Three feed-forward back-propagation ANN models based on Levenberg-Marquardt training algorithm with two hidden layers accompanied by sigmoid activation functions and a linear transfer function in output layer, were applied for three types of processed tea. The neural networks were developed based on energy equivalents of eight different input parameters (energy equivalents of fresh tea leaves, human labor, diesel fuel, electricity, adhesive, carton, corrugated paper box, and transportation) and 11 output parameters (yield, global warming, abiotic depletion, acidification, eutrophication, ozone layer depletion, human toxicity, freshwater aquatic ecotoxicity, marine aquatic ecotoxicity, terrestrial ecotoxicity, and photochemical oxidation). The results showed that the developed ANN models with R 2 values in the range of 0.878 to 0.990 had excellent performance in predicting all the output variables based on inputs. Energy consumption for processing of green tea, oolong tea, and black tea were calculated as 58,182, 60,947, and 66,301 MJ per ton of dry tea, respectively.
Keywords: Artificial neural network; Environmental impact categories; Life cycle assessment; Tea.