IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

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  • 1.
    de Jong, Annelise
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Borisova, Stanislava
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Hallberg, Lisa
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Sondal, Jonas
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Molin, Elvira
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Lidfeldt, Matilda
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    LCA Systemanalys av återanvändbara förpackningar för take-away mat och dryck2023Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This study is reported by IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute on behalf of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and investigates the environmental impact of reusable packaging for takeaway food and beverages. The report serves as a basis for a government assignment carried out by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the National Food Agency to produce guidance and guidelines for reusable food boxes and cups (M2021/02087). In the new regulation (2021: 996) on disposable products, increased requirements for reuse of packaging are in place from January 2024 including registration of reuse systems at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. There are also requirements for actors to inform their customers about the environmental impact of the use of disposable packaging and about the benefits of reduced consumption of the packaging.

    The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has commissioned this study to develop knowledge on the environmental impact of reusable packaging and to show advantages of these over single-use packaging, based on the entire life cycle from the manufacture of reusable packaging to several use cycles, and waste management. Materials that were analyzed for mugs are fossil-based plastics, biobased plastics, and steel, and for boxes materials are fossil-based plastics, biobased plastics, glass, and steel.

    A system analysis (LCA) was applied to answer the following questions in the study:

    How (when and how) brought reusable cups and lunchboxes should be used?

    Which materials for reusable cups and lunchboxes should be used to maximize environmental benefits?

    Results show that raw material extraction dominates for all material alternatives, except for fossil plastics where the incineration in the waste stage also has a significant climate impact. If not accounting for the fact that glass or steel can be used more times than plastic, glass and steel have a much higher impact than plastic due to higher weight since steel also has a greater climate impact per kg of material when manufacturing the material. Still the study signals that fossil-based plastic (in this study PP) is probably the worst material from a climate point of view, which is largely due to the fact that incineration of the container sooner or later contributes to fossil climate impact.

    The bio-based plastic alternative is good from a climate point of view, mainly because the combustion of a bio-based material does not contribute to fossil climate impact, but also because the impact of production of the material is lower, although this is uncertain as the data used in this study is based on an LCA published by a single supplier. For steel packaging the challenge in the analysis was partly to try to do this material justice as it can be used more times than the plastic materials, but also that it has been difficult to define a product weight that is representative in comparison with the other materials. The study also shows that glass (which is only related to food boxes in this study) is a good option. The choice of material for mugs or boxes is thus important and should involve consideration of the durability of the material(s) in terms of number of usages.

    Transport has a relatively small impact overall, but the transport to "users" is visible even if it means less than the cleaning. The heavier the mug/box is, the greater the impact from transport. The cleaning is an important part but is relatively small compared to the raw material phase of packaging production. Non-centralized cleaning has not been analyzed but should give a lower impact (due to no transport), but possibly a higher impact (due to less efficiency), and this could possibly weigh each other out, but has not been analysed. 

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  • 2.
    Martin, Michael
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Molin, Elvira
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Assessing the energy and environmental performance of vertical hydroponic farming2018Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The global population is increasing rapidly, and the amount of people living in urban areas are expected to almost double within 30 years. With a rising population, the demand for food and pressure on arable land is also increasing. Currently, about 26 % of the greenhouse gases emitted from Sweden come from agricultural activities, and with an increasing population, it is essential to aim to reduce the emissions from food supply.

    Vertical farming has seen increasing popularity as a way to reduce the need for arable land and grow crops where they are to be consumed. When farming indoors in a closed environment, the plants are protected from the weather, insects and pests. There are no leakages of nutrients in closed systems and the amount of water used is very limited in comparison to conventional farming. However, artificial lighting is needed in order for the crops to grow. Additionally, vertical farming is capital intensive and requires technical knowledge to be able to make use of the new techniques and equipment available.

    In this study, the sustainability of the vertical farming system at Grönska Stadsodling, hereafter referred to as Grönska, has been evaluated. Grönska is located in southern Stockholm and produces primarily basil in pots that are sold to retailers around the city using vertical-hydroponic techniques. The energy use and environmental impacts for the production of herbs (basil) were assessed using life cycle assessment (LCA) from a cradle-to-gate perspective. This included the materials (e.g. soil, fertilizers) and energy consumption used for growing basil plants. The use (consumption), waste management and transportation to and from the company were not included in this study.

    The results illustrated a large share of energy used for the manufacturing of gardening soil, which also resulted in the second largest environmental impact. The largest source of environmental impacts was the energy consumed for lighting, despite the use of LED lighting. There are possibilities to reduce these impacts by e.g. installing solar panels and optimizing the output of LEDs for the plant production. Furthermore, energy could be saved by changing the growing material, for something with less environmental impacts e.g. coir pith or by recycling the soil used. While extended transportation distances of food is one of the main arguments for urban agriculture, energy consumption and environmental impacts for transportation were found to be a minor part of the energy use and environmental impacts. Finally, the socio-economic implications of urban farming should be taken into account when reviewing sustainability aspects. This study only reviewed energy and environmental impacts, but the socio-economic benefits and resilience for the local community are important to highlight.

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  • 3.
    Martin, Michael
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Molin, Elvira
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Environmental Assessment of an Urban Vertical Hydroponic Farming System in Sweden2020In: Sustainability, E-ISSN 2071-1050, Vol. 11, no 15Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    With an expanding population and changing dynamics in global food markets, it is important to find solutions for more resilient food production methods closer to urban environments. Recently, vertical farming systems have emerged as a potential solution for urban farming. However, although there is an increasing body of literature reviewing the potential of urban and vertical farming systems, only a limited number of studies have reviewed the sustainability of these systems. The aim of this article was to understand the environmental impacts of vertical hydroponic farming in urban environments applied to a case study vertical hydroponic farm in Stockholm, Sweden. This was carried out by evaluating environmental performance using a life cycle perspective to assess the environmental impacts and comparing to potential scenarios for improvement options. The results suggest that important aspects for the vertical hydroponic system include the growing medium, pots, electricity demand, the transportation of raw materials and product deliveries. By replacing plastic pots with paper pots, large reductions in GHG emissions, acidification impacts, and abiotic resource depletion are possible. Replacing conventional gardening soil as the growing medium with coir also leads to large environmental impact reductions. However, in order to further reduce the impacts from the system, more resource-efficient steps will be needed to improve impacts from electricity demand, and there is potential to develop more symbiotic exchanges to employ urban wastes and by-products.

  • 4.
    Martin, Michael
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Molin, Elvira
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Reviewing the energy and environmental performance of vertical farming systems in urban2018Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The global population is increasing rapidly, and the amount of people living in urban areas are expected to almost double within 30 years. With a rising population, the demand for food and pressure on arable land is also increasing. Currently, about 25 % of the greenhouse gases emitted from Sweden come from agricultural activities. Thus with an increasing population, it is essential to aim to reduce the emissions from the food supply.

    Vertical farming has seen increasing popularity as a way to reduce the need for arable land and grow crops where they are to be consumed. When farming indoors in a closed environment, the plants are protected from the weather, insects and pests. There are no leakages of nutrients in closed systems and the amount of water used is very limited in comparison to conventional farming. However, artificial lighting is needed in order for the crops to grow. Additionally, vertical farming is capital intensive and requires technical knowledge to be able to make use of the new techniques and equipment available.

    In this study, the sustainability of the vertical farming system at Node Farm has been evaluated. Node Farm is located in southern Stockholm in an old refrigerated shipping container, and will start the production of cress during spring 2018. The energy use and environmental impacts for the production of hydroponic herbs (cress) were assessed using life cycle assessment (LCA) from a cradle-to-gate perspective. This included the materials (e.g. hempflux and plastic boxes) used for growing cress and the energy consumed for heating and lighting. The use (consumption), waste management and transports to and from the company were not included in this study.

    The results illustrated a large share of energy used for the manufacturing of the plastic box to package the cress. Also the largest source of negative environmental impacts was due to the manufacturing of the plastic box.

    There are possibilities to reduce the energy consumption and environmental impacts by choosing another material for packaging. While extended transportation distances of food is one of the main arguments for urban agriculture, energy consumption and environmental impacts for transportation were found to be a minor part of the energy use and environmental impacts. Finally, the socio-economic implications of urban farming should be taken into account in reviews of the sustainability. This study focuses on energy and environmental impacts, but the socio-economic benefits and resilience of the local community are important to highlight

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  • 5.
    Martin, Michael
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Poulikidou, Sofia
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Molin, Elvira
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Exploring the environmental performance of urban symbiosis for vertical hydroponic farming.2019In: Sustainability, E-ISSN 2071-1050, Vol. 11, no 23Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 6.
    Moberg, Emma
    et al.
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Molin, Elvira
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Källmark, Lovisa
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Martin, Michael
    IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
    Hållbarhetsanalys av svensk ull2023Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This report is written within the Swedish Wool Initiative project, funded by Vinnova. The project aims at increasing the competitiveness for Swedish wool and contributing to a more sustainable and circular textile industry through developing circular products based on discarded Swedish wool. Apart from project leader Axfoundation, project partners include actors from the textile industry, supply chain as well as from research and innovation. The report describes the results of a working package focusing on the sustainability of Swedish wool.

    The study aimed at looking into methodological choices applied in sustainability assessments of sheep and wool production, as well as to investigate results of sustainability impact assessments of the production. Based on this, the study aimed to highlight potentially missing aspects in previous assessments as well as to compare the impacts of Swedish production in relation to production in other countries. 

    For studies assessing wool at farm-gate, a functional unit of per kg of greasy wool was found to be a common choice. Using such functional unit has been criticized for not relating to the function of the fiber which for comparison should be expanded to include its quality and durability. For the reviewed assessments of woolen garments, these were commonly assessed from a cradle to grave perspective, with a functional unit including a definition of a specific weight as well as lifetime, which is preferable as this makes it possible to compare the function of different garments. 

    Concerning handling multi-functionality of production systems, most studies were found to apply one or several allocation strategies to distribute the environmental burdens between the by-products. The choice of allocation factors was found to vary substantially between the reviewed studies which had large implications on overall results. Studies covering Swedish production were found to apply a low or no allocation to wool, due to the low economic revenues of wool. In comparison, studies covering the production in other countries were found to use higher economic allocation factors. This was explained by a higher level of specialization of wool production in combination with larger extent of wool takencare of, which increase its economic revenues and thus allocation factors. 

    On comparing the environmental impact categories and indicators recommendedby frameworks and the ones currently applied in the literature, large overlapswere found. Overall, all environmental impact categories recommended by the reviewed frameworks were found to be used in the studied literature, although no single study was found to cover all aspects in either of the frameworks. 

    The indicators recommended by the studied frameworks were not always applied by the reviewed studies. For example, the impact category of land use and land system change is commonly investigated through assessing overall land use, but is recommended to include indicators on soil health by e.g. the Product Environmental Footprint guidelines.

    In the workshop with actors from different parts of the supply-chain of Swedish wool, environmental perspectives given top priority included climate impact, chemical use in production, biodiversity and resource efficiency. Climate impact and resource use were found to be among the most applied indicators in the literature. Chemical use in production and biodiversity were on the other hand rarely assessed. Thus, future studies assessing the environmental sustainability of Swedish wool could ideally include these aspects. Few studies covering social and economic dimensions were found. The participants in the workshop highlighted animal welfare and profitability among top priorities of social and economic perspectives to be included in a sustainability assessment of Swedish wool. 

    No conclusions could be drawn on the climate impact of Swedish sheep or wool production systems compared to other countries, as the studies vary in analyzed production systems, as well as methodological choices, e.g. regarding the functional units and impact assessment method chosen. However, considering the low allocation factors assigned to Swedish wool in the identified studies, this result in substantially lower climate impact for wool up to farm-gate, compared to the results reported by other studies. 

    Swedish sheep farming has been highlighted to impact positively on several of the Swedish Environmental Objectives, e.g. through grazing animals sustaining biodiversity conservation of threatened species in Swedish semi-natural pastures. Another often lifted benefit for Swedish agriculture is the potential carbon sequestration due to grass ley production. However, several studies were found tohighlight the same attributes to sheep and wool production in other countries worldwide, as the farming systems to a large extent are extensive pastoral-based systems. Regarding other potential benefits often highlighted for Swedish production of sheep and wool, these include animal welfare regulations. On comparing Swedish regulations to legislation and literature for other production countries, potential added values from Swedish production compared to other countries were found, e.g. with regards to use of veterinary antibiotics and medical interventions. 

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