Our life cycle assessment shows that animal-free whey protein generates 85-97% lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional whey protein.
Greenhouse Gas Life Cycle Analysis
Perfect Day is at the forefront of precision fermentation technology with a novel approach to making whey protein that is both efficient and scalable. The company commissioned this study to determine the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the lifecycle of the company’s animal-free dairy proteins and to compare these emissions to those of existing dairy proteins.
The goal of this process was twofold: (1) to understand Perfect Day’s current greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional production methods, and (2) to identify potential areas for improvement.
This study found that Perfect Day whey protein is 85% to 97% lower in GHG emissions than the comparative proteins.
Perfect Day whey protein is
85% to 97% lower in GHG emissions
than the comparative proteins.
If US consumers switched entirely to Perfect Day whey protein, this would save up to 246 million tons of CO2e emissions, which is the equivalent of up to 28 million homes' energy use for one year (all the homes in New York and California combined) or up to 53 million passenger vehicles driven for one year (all the cars in NY, CA, TX, and FL combined), according to the US EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.1
The graph below details the primary findings on Perfect Day whey protein’s reduction of GHG emissions compared to all bovine dairy proteins considered.
This graph shows emissions from Perfect Day whey protein compared to WPI90 (whey protein isolate with 90% protein) and total lactated proteins. Results for WPI90 and total lactated protein were derived from studies 1-4 presented in Appendix C of the full report (see link to download the full report at the bottom of this page). Perfect Day whey protein results were modeled from Perfect Day's unique protein production process.
The study was critically reviewed by a three-person panel of independent experts in conformance with ISO Standard 14067 on GHG emissions. The reviewers’ findings are summarized in the verification statement at the end of the report (see link to download the full report at the bottom of this page). The Global Warming Potential (GWP) was assessed using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) 100-year time scale excluding biogenic carbon method.
The Life Cycle Assessment method was used to aid Perfect Day in identifying GHG emissions impact hot spots in its whey protein production. This analysis evaluated the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of Perfect Day’s animal-free whey protein as compared to the emissions from the following bovine dairy proteins and the total amount of protein found in cow’s milk, referred to as “total lactated protein”:
- Bovine dairy protein WPI90 with 90% protein concentration (WPC90/WPI)
- Two examples of total lactated proteins with 3.3% protein content and two lactated proteins with 3.4% protein content from four different studies. Four proteins from four studies were chosen to show the range of potential results based on these different studies
The GWP category was evaluated to provide the most value to Perfect Day in its commitment to measuring, communicating, and improving its environmental impact. Perfect Day creates protein; therefore, the functional unit of the product is a measure of this nutritional aspect: one kilogram (kg) of protein.
The environmental impact from different proteins depends on material inputs, production method, location, and transportation of the inputs. Perfect Day wanted to fully understand its impact; therefore, the analysis was conducted from cradle-to-gate to include the upstream production of the materials and materials used for the Perfect Day process, production of all other inputs to the process (e.g., natural gas and electricity), and transportation of materials to the Perfect Day production facility. Perfect Day whey protein production also yields a solid biomass co-product that can be sold as an ingredient in high-value domesticated animal pet food; therefore, mass allocation was applied to apportion GHG emissions between the primary and co-product.
The primary driver of GHG emissions for Perfect Day whey protein is the utilities, which contribute 40% of its total GHG emissions. Utilities include the US average natural gas and electricity used in the protein production process. Following utilities, the protein development (fermentation) phase contributes 25% to total GHG emissions.
The application of the results, interpretation, and conclusions of this study are limited to the proteins considered in this study. Furthermore, the results calculated for Perfect Day whey protein are limited to its unique technology and cannot be extrapolated or applied to the production of non-animal-based dairy protein by other means.
1. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (link), the United States produces 97,787,000 tonnes of milk, excluding butter. Assuming a 3.3% protein content, and depending on the animal protein compared, this results in up to 255 million tonnes of CO2e emissions based on the GHG emissions resulting from the comparative bovine dairy proteins. The US EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies calculator (link) assumes US average passenger vehicles and US homes.