From "farm to fork" strawberry system: current realities and potential innovative scenarios from life cycle assessment of non-renewable energy use and green house gas emissions.Sci Total Environ. 2014 Mar 01; 473-474:48-53.ST
In this study, we analysed the environmental profile of the strawberry industry in Northern Italy. The analysis was conducted using two scenarios as reference systems: strawberry crops grown in unheated plastic tunnels using currently existing cultivation techniques, post-harvest management practices and consumption patterns (scenario 1) and the same strawberry cultivation chain in which some of the materials used were replaced with bio-based materials (scenario 2). In numerous studies, biodegradable polymers have been shown to be environmentally friendly, thus potentially reducing environmental impacts. These materials can be recycled into carbon dioxide and water through composting. Many materials, such as Mater-BI® and PLA®, are also derived from renewable resources. The methodology chosen for the environmental analysis was a life cycle assessment (LCA) based on a consequential approach developed to assess a product's overall environmental impact from the production system to its usage and disposal. In the field stage, a traditional mulching film (non-biodegradable) could be replaced with a biodegradable product. This change would result in waste production of 0 kg/ha for the bio-based product compared to 260 kg/ha of waste for polyethylene (PE). In the post-harvest stage, the issue addressed was the use and disposal of packaging materials. The innovative scenario evaluated herein pertains to the use of new packaging materials that increase the shelf life of strawberries, thereby decreasing product losses while increasing waste management efficiency at the level of a distribution platform and/or sales outlet. In the event of product deterioration or non-sale of the product, the packaging and its contents could be collected together as organic waste without any additional processes because the packaging is compostable according to EN13432. Scenario 2 would achieve reductions of 20% in the global warming potential and non-renewable energy impact categories.