Study Compares Water Footprint of Cow’s Milk With Soy Beverage
Study Compares Water Footprint of Cow’s Milk With Soy Beverage A recent study from Ertug, et al., concluded that the water footprint of cow’s milk is three times that of a soy beverage; however, the study failed to account for local water factors, which are critical to form an accurate assessment. International water footprint standards proposed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) emphasize the importance of local factors including, the source of water; if, when and how the water is returned to the watershed; and the quality of water returned to the watershed after use.
The objective of the study was to quantify the water footprints of soy beverage and soy burger and compare them with the water footprints of cow’s milk and beef burger. In the case of the beverages, the study focused on a specific soy beverage processed in Belgium with three supply scenarios of soybeans: Canada, China and France. Researchers then compared their findings to the global average water footprint of cow’s milk.
Editor’s Note: The study by Ertug, et al., did not follow the proposed ISO standards for water, which are currently in development. The life cycle assessments completed by the Dairy Research Institute® and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® follow the ISO standards for life cycle assessments. The ISO is regarded as the world’s most recognized and widely used methodology for analyzing a product’s life cycle.
Ercin AE, Aldaya MM, Hoekstra AY. The water footprint of soy milk and soy burger and equivalent animal products. Ecol Indic. 2012;18:392-402.