Life cycle carbon footprint of the packaging and transport of New Zealand kiwifruit
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- Robertson, K., Garnham, M. & Symes, W. Int J Life Cycle Assess (2014) 19: 1693. doi:10.1007/s11367-014-0775-5
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The aim of this study is to assess the life cycle carbon footprint of the New Zealand kiwifruit packaging and transport supply chain to retailers in two major markets (Japan and Germany). Results of this study have been used to identify areas of the New Zealand kiwifruit packaging and transport supply chain that contribute significantly to the carbon footprint and to identify options for reduction.
This study is based on the ISO standards for life cycle assessment (namely, ISO 14040:2006 and ISO 14044:2006). The PAS 2050 also provided further methodological guidance. Primary packaging data were sourced from Zespri’s suppliers. End-of-life data were sourced from the market and waste statistics of the relevant countries. Gabi 4.4 was used for upstream material information and modelling.
Results and discussion
The carbon footprint of the packaging and transport of kiwifruit ranged from 0.33 to 0.67 kg CO2e per kilogram of fruit delivered to a store depending on pack type and market. Shipping accounted for the majority of these emissions (58–82 %), and Zespri is actively working with shipping companies to reduce this. There are also opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint through reducing the amount of fruit repacked in the market, using trains for long-distance transport and increasing packaging recycling rates.
There is a range of options for reducing the carbon footprint of the New Zealand kiwifruit packaging and transport supply chain. These will tend to be incremental (i.e. a number of small gains) and would involve working closely with partners in the supply chain. Options include increased efficiency in shipping, use of trains for land transport, reductions in the addition of structural packaging in the market, managing the product mix to minimize those supply chains with a higher carbon footprint, identifying alternative material for components of the packaging, replacing the use of polystyrene clamshells with alternative materials or plastic bags and maximizing recycling rates along all stages of the supply chain.