Karg, Jonas; Stellmach, Kimberly; Lindner, Jan Paul

To help companies understand their impact on biodiversity it is important to measure the impact of products on biodiversity. The non-linear and multiple cause-effect relationship of biodiversity makes the integration into LCA more difficult. There are several methods that attempt to meet this challenge. However, more research is needed, to further develop these methods. A case study is conducted to investigate the biodiversity impact of vanilla flavor, the world’s most popular flavor. In this study, we distinguish natural vanilla, synthetic vanilla flavor from lignin and from petroleum. For this purpose, the Hemeroby-Fuzzy method according to Lindner et al. (2019) is used. For a comparable flavor effect, the natural and synthetic production is compared based on the amount needed for 1 kg of vanilla/vanillin sugar. Because of the different cultivation types of natural vanilla, the study also distinguished between agroforest and plantation cultivation. In order to account for the variability in the product systems and the uncertainty in the secondary data, scenarios are defined for each production route. The results indicate that synthetic vanilla flavor from wood and crude oil is associated with a lower biodiversity impact than the production of natural vanilla. The area used for petroleum production is more damaged in terms of biodiversity, but significantly less area is required compared to the cultivation of natural vanilla. The cultivation in an agroforest has a lower biodiversity impact than the cultivation on a plantation. The damage to the surface in the production of timber is about at the same level as in the cultivation of natural vanilla. However, the required area is decisively smaller. This case study shows the limits and possibilities of the method. Valuable insights are gained, to further develop the method. It also demonstrates that the method can be used for complicated matters like the comparison between a natural and synthetic production route.