This Research Communication describes the methodology used and the subsequent results obtained for an assessment of the environmental impact associated with the manufacture of dairy products in the Republic of Ireland. As the Irish dairy industry changes and grows, it is necessary to have a benchmark of the environmental performance of the sector if it is to remain sustainable in the future. In order to estimate the environmental impact, life cycle assessment has been implemented, which has been structured in accordance with the International Organisation for Standardisation guidelines. In this study, the environmental impact categories assessed are terrestrial acidification potential, cumulative energy demand, freshwater eutrophication potential, global warming potential, marine eutrophication potential and water depletion. The main Irish dairy products have been compared across these environmental impact categories in order to derive meaningful results. It is identified that packaging materials, particularly for infant formula, and energy usage, across each of the life cycle stages, should be targeted as these are the most significant contributors to the overall environmental impact.
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