Life cycle assessment of fertilizers: a review

Open access

Abstract

Life cycle assessment has become an increasingly common approach for identifying, quantifying, and evaluating the total potential environmental impact of production processes or products, from the procurement of raw materials (the ‘cradle’), to production and utilization (the ‘gates’) and their final storage (the ‘grave’), as well as for determining ways to repair damage to the environment. The paper describes life cycle assessment of mineral fertilizers. On the basis of results provided by life cycle assessment, it can be concluded that an effective strategy for protecting the environment against the harmful effects of fertilizers is to attempt to ‘seal’ the nutrient cycle on a global, regional, and local scale. Pro-environ- mental measures aim on the one hand to reduce resource utilization, and on the other hand to limit losses of nutrients, during both production and use of fertilizers. An undoubted challenge for life cycle assessment when used in agricultural production is the need for relevance at each scale.

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