The aim of the paper is to assesses the role and effectiveness of a proposed novel strategy for Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data collection in the food sector and associated supply chains. The study represents one of the first of its type and provides answers to some of the key questions regarding the data collection process developed, managed and implemented by a multinational food company across the supply chain.
An integrated LCI data collection process for confectionery products was developed and implemented by Nestlé, a multinational food company. Some of the key features includes: (1) management and implementation by a multinational food company, (2) types of roles to manage, provide and facilitate data exchange, (3) procedures to identify key products, suppliers and customers, (4) LCI questionnaire and cover letter, and (5) data quality management based on the pedigree matrix. Overall, the combined features in an integrated framework provides a new way of thinking about the collection of LCI data from the perspective of a multinational food company.
The integrated LCI collection framework spanned across five months and resulted in 87 new LCI datasets for confectionery products from raw material, primary resource use, emission and waste release data collected from suppliers across 19 countries. The data collected was found to be of medium-to-high quality compared with secondary data. However, for retailers and waste service companies only partially completed questionnaires were returned. Some of the key challenges encountered during the collection and creation of data included: lack of experience, identifying key actors, communication and technical language, commercial compromise, confidentiality protection, and complexity of multi-tiered supplier systems. A range of recommendations are proposed to reconcile these challenges which include: standardisation of environmental data from suppliers, concise and targeted LCI questionnaires, and visualising complexity through drawings.
The integrated LCI data collection process and strategy has demonstrated the potential role of a multinational company to quickly engage and act as a strong enabler to unlock latent data for various aspects of the confectionery supply chain. Overall, it is recommended that the research findings serve as the foundations to transition towards a standardised procedure which can practically guide other multinational companies to considerably increase the availability of LCI data.