LIFE: The Tough Get Going

“Progress through knowledge”: the project LIFE TTGG – The Tough Get Going was born with this perspective: a successful synergy between universities, start-upcompanies, manufacturers, Italian and French training and research Institutions.
The project
New basis for quality production
“Progress through knowledge”: the project LIFE TTGG – The Tough Get Going was born with this perspective: a successful synergy between universities, start-upcompanies, manufacturers, Italian and French training and research Institutions.
The aim is to orientate the development of the dairy sector towards more efficient production,to ensure growth and preserve quality, with an environmental sustainability perspective.

An innovative sector
The PDOs Grana Padano (Italy) and Comté (France) have chosen to join the project together with universities and research organizations. A data inventory of all the processes belonging to the supply chain will be set up and used to develop a software tool to support environmental decisions.
At the end of the process, it will be possible to extend the LIFE TTGG model to other PDO cheeses European consortia and further on to several PDO and PGI products, contributing to a substantial reduction of the environmental impact and to an increase of the economic sustainability of the entire agro-food sector.

Today global warming represents one of the most urgent and severe challenges, the joint commitment of institutions and companies throughout the whole supply chain is essential.

Direct greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural activities related to food production are reported to range between 10-12% of total greenhouse gas emissions worldwide: it’s necessary to take actions as soon as possible to reduce the environmental impact of a significant sector such as the dairy sector.

The greenhouse gas emissions are not the only problem to be tackled. The dairy sector is responsible for other negative environmental effects such as: water resource depletion, freshwater and marine eutrophication, freshwater ecotoxicity, and land use. All the supply chain actors are responsible for limiting these negative effects on the environment.

Hence there is the need to improve the efficiency of PDO cheeses production, by means of a complete and detailed mapping of the environmental impact of the entire supply chain – including consumption and waste management – and the development of more sustainable practises.

LIFE The Tough Get Going (LIFE TTGG)
Conceived with the purpose to improve the efficiency of the entire production chain of European hard and semi-hard PDO cheeses, the LIFE TTGG – The Tough Get Going project aims at design and develop a software (Environmental Decision Support System – EDSS), capable of assessing the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and encouraging its reduction, allowing the adoption of solutions and techniques to optimize the performance of the entire production cycle.

The involvement of the Grana Padano Protection Consortium and the Comité Interprofessionnel de Gestion du Comté gives the opportunity to test and calibrate the software with two relevant cheese PDOs (The French dairy organization, CNIEL, a project partner, will be responsible to test the software on Comté PDO cheese).

The result will be the creation of a reliable tool and proven methodologies to be proposed to other EU PDO consortia, in the hope they can become a reference for environmental innovation and quality production.


Developing an effective and shared system to calculate and to reduce the environmental footprint, in compliance with the Product Environmental Footprint methodology (PEF).
metodologia pef
Raising the awareness of individual manufacturers, encouraging the environmental certification of their products, disseminating the PEF methodology to PDOs cheese Consortia.
Increasing the awareness of consumers and stakeholders on PEF, through targeted information and communication campaigns.
user friendly
Simplifying PEF calculation and ease company decision-making, through user-friendly tools.
prestazioni ambientali
Optimising the environmental and economic performance of the involved players (farms, dairies and packaging manufacturers).
know how
Transferring the acquired know-how to other European PDO and PGI products.


LIFE TTGG, the first results of the supply chain: certification of the datasets (USCS)
Among the most important results of the LIFE TTGG Project is the creation of a set of strategic tools to stimulate the learning and innovative capacity of the companies in the Grana Padano PDO production chain. By applying the European method “Product Environmental Footprint” (PEF) and the Category Rules for Dairy Products (Dairy PEFCR) a realistic picture of the Grana Padano production chain was taken.

The data collection was carried out on a representative sample of the entire production chain of Grana Padano PDO, consisting of 68 farms, 19 dairies and 18 packagers. The work, which lasted more than two years, made it possible to assess the environmental performance of the entire Grana Padano PDO production chain, from the farms to the packaging facilities, and the consequent creation of average and combined datasets. In fact, the following datasets were obtained from the important data collection and processing:

– 3 datasets for the milk production phase at the farm
– 3 datasets for the production phase
– 1 dataset for the packaging phase
– 1 combined dataset of the whole supply chain

The elaborated datasets are compliant with the PEF methodology of the European Commission and have obtained the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) certification, thus laying the basis for a future sharing of the combined data of the Grana Padano PDO supply chain with the international scientific community.

Thanks to the results obtained from the LIFE TTGG Project, it was also possible to publish the Rules by Product Category for Grana Padano PDO within the Made Green in Italy, the national certification on the product’s environmental footprint, with which the Grana Padano Consortium’s companies will be able to assess and promote the sustainability of their production, raising awareness among the entire supply chain and final consumers.

In order to calculate the environmental impact of PDO cheese production and any environmental hot spots, we are developing a software, the Environmental Decision Support Tool (called in Italian, Strumento di Supporto per le Decisioni Ambientali or SSDA), which translates the PEF guidelines into a system for calculating and improving the entire production chain.

The LIFE TTGG project, recognised as “the 2021 LIFE project of the month for June” by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, represents the starting point for the sustainable transition of the national dairy sector, with the Grana Padano PDO Consortium playing a leading role.

Strategies for energy efficiency in the Farm (USCS)
It takes 1,5 litres (3 pints) of partially skimmed milk from the Por River Valley to make 100 g of Grana Padano PDO, so it really is a milk concentrate. Therefore, milk is fundamental and precious to produce this cheese.

The LIFE TTGG project has made it possible to calculate the environmental footprint of Grana Padano PDO by considering all the stages of the supply chain: from the breeding of the cows for milk production, through processing and maturing to packaging and distribution of the product at points of sale.
The Catholic University of Piacenza (Università Cattolica), partner in the LIFE TTGG project, assessed the milk production phase at the farm.

The application of the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) method showed that the farm phase, where raw milk is produced, is the origin of almost all environmental impacts (about 91% of the whole production chain).

The LIFE TTGG project achieved a second important result, highlighting which data/activities have the greatest environmental impact in the stable system. The percentages are as follows:

– Forage purchase (34%)
– produzione di alimenti (25%),
– Forage production (25%)
– Emissions from manure management, enteric fermentation and cowshed management (16%, 12% and 6% respectively)
– energy use (5%)
– purchase of bedding material (1%)
– water use in animal husbandry (1%).

Through this study, the identification of some areas of intervention and mitigation actions were identified which could be adopted by farmers in order to improve the environmental performance of their production system.

Specifically, the areas of intervention concern:

– Management and distribution of livestock effluents, an improvement in effluent storage techniques, valorising effluents through anaerobic digestion, and through a better agronomic use of effluents, also generating an increase in crop yields.
– The adoption of management choices aimed at optimising the composition of the herd, also guaranteeing greater animal welfare.
– Increasing the quality of self-produced forage and paying greater attention to the management and choice of the geographical origin of purchased feed.
– The adoption of a heat recovery system from milk cooling.

Among the mitigation measures identified, the use of livestock manure in anaerobic digesters and the optimisation of manure management and distribution to the field were found to be the most effective in terms of reducing the overall environmental footprint.

Strategies for energy efficiency in dairies (Enersem)
Here is a view of energy efficiency in dairies! To be precise, the picture of thermal and electrical consumption normalised to the quantity of milk treated.

The LIFE TTGG project has shown that the environmental impact related to the processing of milk in the dairy is very low, in fact it is estimated that about 3.5% of the impact of packaged Grana Padano PDO is due to the dairy phase, which includes the processing of the milk and the maturing of the cheese.

Enersem, Spin-off of the Politecnico di Milano, partner of the LIFE TTGG project, has shown that dairies that have undertaken heat recovery strategies are more efficient.

Here are two examples of these strategies:

– Recovery of heat from the whey – at around 50°C – which can be recovered to supply some of the dairy’s utilities, instead of using steam or hot water.
– Recovery of condensation heat from the refrigeration units that would otherwise be dissipated to supply the hot batteries of the air treatment units serving the maturing warehouses.

Strategies and solutions for correct product preservation and reduction of food waste (Polimi DES)
Every year in Europe 88 million tonnes of food are wasted, which amounts to 173 kilograms of food waste per person (Fusion, 2016).

We waste more than 20% of the food we produce. Where? more than half of the waste is generated by the consumer, followed by processing, food services, primary productions, and sales.

Food waste is a (serious) ethical problem with economic and environmental consequences. It is not compatible with the ambitious European Green Deal. Even the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its goal 12 “responsible consumption and production” indicates the need, by 2030, to halve global per capita waste and reduce food losses along the production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

FAO estimates that food waste alone accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is also particularly relevant for the dairy supply chain.

To combat food waste, the Life TTGG project has identified and is promoting a series of actions:

– Develop packaging that further prevents food waste;
– Raise consumer awareness by sharing good prevention practices (e.g., proper storage);
– Support the correct interpretation of the expiry date and in particular the difference between “expiry date” and “best before date”;
– Improving the destination of surplus food (e.g., encouraging donations to food banks and charities).

Project Coordinator

A leading international reference for education and research, Politecnico di Milano participates in the LIFE TTGG project with the Departments of Energy and Design.



(Grana Padano Protection Consortium) was founded in 1954 to promote, protect and monitor what has now become the most widely consumed PDO cheese in the world, Grana Padano. 128 are the producer members, 149 ripeners, 194 companies authorized for packaging, 4250 livestock companies supplying milk involving a total of 40,000

grana padano
Composed of representatives of farmers’ federations, private processors and cooperatives, CNIEL is the institution responsible for the organisation of the entire French dairy sector

Historical Italian academic institution, the UCSC participates in the LIFE TTGG project with the Department of Food Science and Technology for a Sustainable Supply Chain (DISTAS) and the Institute of Food and Nutrition Science.

universita cattolica sacro cuore
Since 2002, the Qualivita Foundation is committed to the protection and enhancement of the quality of agricultural and food products and wine products, mainly Italian PDO, PGI and TSG productions.

A Politecnico di Milano spin off, ENERSEM carries out consultancy and R&D activities, developing innovative solutions for energy consumption reduction in the civil and industrial sectors.

Founded in Geneva in 2003, oriGIn – is a non-profit organization that brings together over 500 producers and institutions linked to Geographic Indications in over 40 countries.