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Optimising diets to reach absolute planetary environmental sustainability through consumers

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Title: Optimising diets to reach absolute planetary environmental sustainability through consumers
Authors: Lucas, E
Guo, M
Guillen-Gosalbez, G
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: The environmental impacts of food are currently at unsustainable levels. Consumers undoubtedly play a central role in reducing the impacts of the food system to more sustainable levels via dietary changes and food waste reduction. Mathematical optimisation is one approach to identifying less environmentally impactful dietary patterns. A limited number of studies, however, have assessed whether impact reductions offered by optimised diets are enough to remain within planetary boundaries (i.e. attain ‘absolute’ environmental sustainability). Using UK food consumption as a case study, here we employ linear programming to identify nutritionally adequate diets that meet sociocultural acceptability criteria whilst minimising (a) environmental impact transgressions of their allocated share of the safe operating space (SoSOS) for nine planetary boundaries (PBs), (b) cost, or (c) deviation from the current diet. We show that the current diet is unsustainable as it transgresses six or seven PBs, depending on the SoSOS allocation principle. Optimising for minimum SoSOS transgressions yields diets offering significant impact reductions (66 - 95% reduction across all PBs) compared to the current average dietary pattern, but whether they completely mitigate SoSOS transgressions depends on the sharing principle adopted to assign the SoSOS to national food consumption. Additionally, by comparing least-cost and least-transgression solutions, we find a trade-off between cost and environmental sustainability indicating that more sustainable dietary patterns are not currently incentivised by the relative prices of food items in the UK. Our work demonstrates the value in embedding ‘absolute’ sustainability in diet optimisation so that solutions inherently provide a more clear-cut understanding of their broad implications on the environment.
Issue Date: 1-Oct-2021
Date of Acceptance: 20-Jul-2021
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/93990
DOI: 10.1016/j.spc.2021.07.003
ISSN: 2352-5509
Publisher: Institution of Chemical Engineers
Start Page: 877
End Page: 892
Journal / Book Title: Sustainable Production and Consumption
Volume: 28
Copyright Statement: 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Institution of Chemical Engineers. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
Sponsor/Funder: Natural Environment Research Council
Funder's Grant Number: NE/L002515/1
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Green & Sustainable Science & Technology
Environmental Studies
Science & Technology - Other Topics
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Diet optimization
Planetary boundaries
Environmental sustainability
Diet cost
Safe operating space
Dietary change
GREENHOUSE-GAS EMISSIONS
HEALTHY
COST
IMPACTS
SYSTEM
FOODS
LIFE
UK
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Green & Sustainable Science & Technology
Environmental Studies
Science & Technology - Other Topics
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Diet optimization
Planetary boundaries
Environmental sustainability
Diet cost
Safe operating space
Dietary change
GREENHOUSE-GAS EMISSIONS
HEALTHY
COST
IMPACTS
SYSTEM
FOODS
LIFE
UK
0502 Environmental Science and Management
1402 Applied Economics
1604 Human Geography
Publication Status: Published
Open Access location: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spc.2021.07.003
Appears in Collections:Chemical Engineering



This item is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons