Eco-Efficiency Assessment in Apple Production and Storage in the Northeast of Portugal

Abstract

Cost reduction, product quality, and customer demands have been pressing the agro-industrial sector to adopt more sustainable practices. Assessing the environmental performance of the food sector worldwide is crucial to reduce the environmental impact of agricultural and industrial practices. This study focus on the assessment of the eco-efficiency of the apple production and storage in the northeastern region of Portugal, one of the largest production regions, using a set of environmental indicators such as energy intensity (EI), water withdrawn intensity (WWI) and GHG emission intensity (GEI). System boundaries include the farming and the storage subsystems. Upstream and down-stream processes such as fertilization production, apple distribution and waste treatment were not taken into account. Inventory information was gathered from two apple farms and one apple storage company. Data was gathered for a reference year. Results show that each ton of apple exiting the system requires on average 32.7 kgoe of primary energy, 74.9 m3 of water and generates an emission of 75.1 kgCO2e. Apple orchard irrigation was identified as the most energy-demanding activity with up to 63% of the energy input. Industrial cold was identified as the most energy-demanding activity (50%) in the apple storage stage. Water is required in both subsystems but the amount used in the storage is residual (<1%) when compared with its use by agricultural subsystem. Taking into account the GHG emissions from the use of energy, apple cultivation had a lower contribution for GEI (40%) than the apple storage (60%). Unlike other food systems, a more eco-efficient apple production can be accomplished through improvements in both stages, since energy costs and environmental impacts are greatly associated with energy use.



Author Information
Manuel Feliciano, CIMO Research Center, Escola Superior Agrária do Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, Portugal
Filipe Maia, CIMO Research Center, Escola Superior Agrária do Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, Portugal
Filipe Rodrigues, CIMO Research Center, Escola Superior Agrária do Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, Portugal
Artur Gonçalves, CIMO Research Center, Escola Superior Agrária do Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, Portugal

Paper Information
Conference: ECSEE2014
Stream: Environmental Sustainability & Human Consumption: Food and Water

This paper is part of the ECSEE2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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