Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Determining biocontainers' carbon footprint

Date:
April 28, 2014
Source:
American Society for Horticultural Science
Summary:
A study assessed material and energy inputs required to produce a petunia plant from propagation to delivery. Impacts were expressed in terms of the contribution to the carbon footprint (global warming potential) of a single finished plant. Although traditional plastic containers were 'significant contributors' to global warming potential, electrical consumption for supplemental lighting and irrigation during plug production was found to be the leading source of CO2e emissions in the model.

Many efforts to reduce the environmental impacts associated with commercial horticulture production have failed to influence the general public. For example, one recent study showed that the use of organic fertilizers offered no significant marketing advantage to producers of floral crops. In contrast to the promotion of organic products, the use of biocontainers (plant material-based, biodegradable pots) as alternatives to conventional plastic containers has been shown to resonate with many consumers.

The authors of a new study say that, despite the positive public perception of biocontainers' environmental benefits as alternatives to petroleum-based plastic pots, the impact of biocontainers on commercial greenhouse sustainability has not been thoroughly evaluated. The researchers offer a first look at the overall sustainability of biocontainers as part of a greenhouse production system. "Our work adopted a grower's perspective and focuses on the environmental impacts of container use during the plant production phase," explained Andrew Koeser, corresponding author of the study published in HortScience (March 2014).

The team's "cradle-to-gate" study compared the secondary impacts that occur during the greenhouse production of plants grown in biocontainers. The life cycle assessment data for the study was obtained from interviews, published literature, propriety data sources, direct metering at the greenhouse facility, and original findings from a series of university greenhouse experiments. The authors noted that their work also offers an initial screening of commercially available biocontainers that could be used in future life cycle assessments that focus on manufacturing inputs and environmental impacts.

A conventional plastic container and nine types of biocontainers (bioplastic, coir, manure, peat, bioplastic sleeve, slotted rice hull, solid rice hull, straw, and wood fiber) were included in the life cycle assessments for greenhouse petunia production. The impacts were presented in terms of contribution to the carbon footprint or global warming potential (GWP) of a single finished plant in a 10-cm-diameter container.

Results showed that a traditional plastic container accounts for approximately 16% of overall carbon dioxide equivalents emissions during petunia production. However, electrical consumption for supplemental lighting and irrigation during plug production proved to be the leading source of CO2e emissions (more than 47%) in the model system. Differences in GWP when considering secondary impacts associated with the various biocontainers were minor, especially when compared with the other elements of production.

The researchers said that their results demonstrate that biocontainers could potentially be as sustainable as, or more sustainable, than plastic pots "once pot manufacturing and end-of-life data are considered." They emphasized that use of more efficient supplemental lighting sources may ultimately have the greatest impact on overall global warming potential for the production system assessed.

"Although biocontainers have been linked to reduced performance in plant growth, filling speed, shipping success, and irrigation demand trials, these differences do not have a dramatic effect on production sustainability from a global warming potential perspective," said the authors. "These results should be encouraging for growers and manufacturers looking to increase sustainability through the use and development of biocontainers."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Horticultural Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andrew K. Koeser et al. Biocontainer Use in a Petunia Χhybrida Greenhouse Production System: a Cradle-to-gate Carbon Footprint Assessment of Secondary Impacts. HortScience, March 2014

Cite This Page:

American Society for Horticultural Science. "Determining biocontainers' carbon footprint." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140428094307.htm>.
American Society for Horticultural Science. (2014, April 28). Determining biocontainers' carbon footprint. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140428094307.htm
American Society for Horticultural Science. "Determining biocontainers' carbon footprint." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140428094307.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) — Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) — Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com
Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) — A likely tornado tears through an eastern Virginia campground, killing three and injuring at least 20. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins