Gasoline-powered lawn mowers and garden equipment are emitting 30 million tons of pollutants yearly in the USA, accounting for a quarter of all non-road gasoline emissions. While the US market is dominated by gasoline-powered lawn mowers, this study offers an assessment of the environmental implication and cost of electrifying the lawn mower industry.
First, the lifecycle environmental footprint and total cost of ownership of electric-powered mowers are calculated and compared to those of conventional gasoline-powered counterparts, using life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) methodologies. A multi-indicator impact assessment is notably conducted, using the SimaPro software (v8.5), the ReCiPe methodology (H), and the ecoinvent database (v3.4) completed with data from the GREET model for the use phase. Second, an extrapolation model is computed to interpret the results at a national and regional scale, considering the proper energy mix in each US state. The combination of LCA and LCC results, mapped out in a two-dimensional chart, allows a clear visual representation of the environmental and economic trade-offs between the gasoline and electric solutions.
Results and discussion
The findings indicate a reduction of 49.9% and 32.3% of CO2 emissions, respectively, for push and riding mowers, by using the electric solution instead of the conventional one over their lifecycle. Yet, the total cost of ownership is slightly higher (4.7–10.6%) for the electric solutions, even if the operating costs are lower. And as the initial buying price of the electric solution is more expensive than the gasoline solution of the same category, this could be a real hindrance for consumers who do not systematically consider the overall lifecycle cost when comparing mowers. In this line, the quantification of a suitable financial incentive to support the electrification of the lawn mower market is of utmost importance and appears as a promising line for future work.
The present results are significant in at least two major respects for the potential electrification of lawn mowing equipment. First, they show how an increased market share of electric mowers can contribute to cutting down greenhouse gas emissions. Second, such quantitative results can be useful for decision-makers in businesses and state governments to take appropriate ecological actions, e.g., in the development of adequate financial incentives or green policy to support the energy transition in this sector, and thus tackle global warming.
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Saidani, M., Kim, H. Quantification of the environmental and economic benefits of the electrification of lawn mowers on the US residential market. Int J Life Cycle Assess 26, 1267–1284 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-021-01917-x