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Open AccessArticle

Effects of Alternative Uses of Distillery By-Products on the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Scottish Malt Whisky Production: A System Expansion Approach

1
Land Economy, Environment and Society Research Group, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK
2
Rural Business Unit, SAC Consulting, 2 Technopole, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0PJ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1473; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051473
Received: 6 April 2018 / Revised: 1 May 2018 / Accepted: 4 May 2018 / Published: 8 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmentally Sustainable Livestock Production)
Agricultural by-products are an important component of livestock feed. In Scotland, distillery by-products are protein rich and traditionally cost competitive feed ingredients in cattle production. However, during recent years, distilleries in the UK (including Scotch whisky producers) have started to use the by-products also as a source of renewable energy, in order to reduce the carbon footprint of alcohol production. In this study, a systems-based material and energy flow analysis was performed to calculate the life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of whisky production for two scenarios where distillery by-products were used either (1) as beef cattle feed to replace other protein sources (namely soya bean meal and rapeseed meal); or (2) as anaerobic digester (AD) feedstock in order to generate renewable energy (heat and electricity). System expansion was used to quantitatively handle the by-products in the analysis. The results show that considerable reductions in GHG emissions could be achieved by either replacing feed crops with by-products or by using the by-products in AD plants to generate bio-energy. The biggest reductions in the GHG emissions were achieved when by-products were used to replace soya meal in animal feed. However, the results are highly sensitive to methodological choices, including the accounting method of the land use change emissions arising from soya production. View Full-Text
Keywords: agricultural by-products; whisky production; cattle; beef; livestock feed; renewable energy; greenhouse gas emissions agricultural by-products; whisky production; cattle; beef; livestock feed; renewable energy; greenhouse gas emissions
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Leinonen, I.; MacLeod, M.; Bell, J. Effects of Alternative Uses of Distillery By-Products on the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Scottish Malt Whisky Production: A System Expansion Approach. Sustainability 2018, 10, 1473.

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