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Life Cycle Assessment of the Stonyfield Farm Product Delivery System

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A life cycle assessment was conducted to evaluate the total environmental burdens of the yogurt product delivery system (PDS) for Stonyfield Farm. A life cycle model was used to develop recommendations for enhancing environmental performance of the PDS by Stonyfield Farm and their suppliers. The PDS consists of primary and secondary packaging and transportation links required to deliver the packaging and products between the system model components. The current PDS consisting of polypropylene (PP)cups was compared to the following four alternative systems:  

-A PDS that uses high density polyethylene cups;

-A PDS that uses a thermoforming process instead of injection molding; 

-A PDS that uses coated unbleached paperboard cups; and 

-A PDS that uses corn-based polylactide (PLA) cups.

The PDS energy intensity was correlated to the size of the containers, mass of the materials used, manufacturing processes, and the material composition. The total energy consumption for the current 2, 4, 6, 8 and 32 oz. containers were 3800, 4080, 4760, 4020, and 2930 MJ per functional unit, respectively. The 32 oz. containers consumed 27% less energy than the 8 oz. containers, and if all Stonyfield Farm yogurt were sold in 32 oz. containers, the annualized energy savings would be equivalent to 11,250 barrels of oil.

Significant amounts of energy are consumed at the Material Production phase, as well as Distribution 3 (yogurt delivery to distributors/retailers), which alone accounted for 1/3 of the life cycle total energy. Key recommendations for reducing environmental burdens include switching to thermoformed cup manufacturing, minimizing the distance traveled from Stonyfield Farm to retailers by opening a second yogurt production facility, and optimizing of the ratio of primary packaging to corrugated board as well as further investigating of renewable packaging materials.

Research Areas
Food Systems and Consumer Products
Consumer Products & Packaging
Publication Type
Master's Thesis
Digital Object Identifier
Full Citation

Brachfeld, D., T. Dritz, S. Kodama, A. Phipps, E. Steiner and G.A. Keoleian. 2001. Life Cycle Assessment of the Stonyfield Farm Product Delivery System. University of Michigan: Ann Arbor.