An Organisational-Life Cycle Assessment Approach for Internet of Things Technologies Implementation in a Human Milk Bank

Tamíris Pacheco da Costa, James Gillespie, Katarzyna Pelc, Natalie Shenker, Gillian Weaver, Ramakrishnan Ramanathan, Fionnuala Murphy, Riccardo Guidetti (Editor)

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Abstract

Human milk banks (HMB) are responsible for screening and recruiting milk donors with surplus milk to their own infant’s needs, followed by transporting, heat-treating (pasteurising) and microbiologically confirming the donor human milk (DHM) is safe to issue to vulnerable infants. Maintaining the safety and quality of DHM are vital requirements in HMB operations. DHM must be maintained in ideal temperature conditions throughout the whole period—from expression until delivery. In this regard, monitoring technologies (e.g., sensors, Big Data and the Internet of Things) have become a viable solution to avoid food loss, allowing prompt corrective action. Therefore, this study aimed to understand the trade-offs between optimising DHM transportation and the environmental impact of implementing such technologies. The environmental performance was carried out through an Organisational Life Cycle Assessment (O-LCA). The electricity consumed during milk storage is the main driver for the environmental impacts in this organisation, responsible for up to 82% of the impacts in ionising radiation. The transportation stage and the treatment of discarded DHM were also relevant for ozone formation and marine eutrophication, respectively. Considering the strategy to integrate monitoring technologies to control the temperature conditions during transportation and the reduction of milk discarded by 3%, an environmental impact reduction can be also observed. In some categories, such as global warming, it could avoid around 863 kg of CO2-eq per year. The sensitivity analysis showed that the impacts of the HMB depend highly on the transport distance. In addition, changing the transportation mode from motorcycles to drones or electric vehicles can affect the environmental performance of this organisation. Therefore, human milk transport logistics must be studied in a multidisciplinary way to encompass all possible impacts of these strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1137
JournalSustainability
Volume15
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jan 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished online - 6 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • environmental analysis
  • human milk bank
  • IoT technologies
  • milk waste
  • organisational LCA

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