For decades, microalgal biotechnology has experienced impressive growth due to its application capacity for the production of bioenergy as well as its potential for bioremediation, through technologies considered to be environmentally sustainable. However, human interest in microalgae has changed exponentially, and the use of microalgae as base ingredients for food supplements, valuing the functional and nutritional quality of its biochemical composition, has driven industrial markets. In parallel, a new issue emerges: Can natural ingredients be considered sustainable foods? To answer this knowledge gap, sustainability assessments have been proposed in order to measure the real impacts of natural ingredients production to microalgae-based. After all, one of the main limitations of the microalgae-based process is related to the energy demand, the requirement of high water and nutrient use, which cast doubt on the real sustainability of microalgal products. In this sense, this chapter aims to address ways of how the production of microalgae can contribute to achieving the global sustainable development goals. Besides, the methodology for assessing sustainability indicators will be reviewed, with an exclusive focus on bio-based processes. A closer look at the energy-water-carbon nexus applied to the production of microalgae-based ingredients was addressed, in order to point out the microalgal processes hotspot, presenting their environmental vulnerabilities, offering alternative improvements to obtain more efficient, equitable, and fair use of natural resources, promoting global sustainability.
Handbook of Food and Feed from Microalgae: Production, Application, Regulation, and Sustainability, 2023, pp 603-610,