Summary Report: Assessing the environmental performance of improvement measures at Svegro

This study aims to assess the environmental performance of the progress and future possibilities for resource efficiency applied to a horticultural greenhouse in Sweden producing herbs and lettuce. The environmental implications of the development of a case study greenhouse are assessed by employing life cycle analysis and highlighting the environmental performance of different scenarios based on measures taken to improve resource efficiency. These scenarios include previous improvement measures to the greenhouse such as switching to organic fertilizers, switching to a bio-based pellet heating system, and reducing and altering the amount of plastics employed for the packaging. Future scenarios are also included to explore the implications of shifting toward more renewable transportation for product logistics, employing LEDs in place of high-pressure sodium lighting, densifying the production, and employing more recyclable fractions of plastic.

Environmental performance indicators are provided for each scenario to show the greenhouse gas emissions, eutrophication, acidification, resource consumption, and water resource depletion. The results from the scenarios suggest that measures developed for the greenhouse had large environmental performance improvements. For these past measures, switching to bio-based pellet burners and reducing the amount and type of plastics were identified to be the most beneficial to nearly all environmental impact categories. For future measures, the largest environmental performance benefits were found for switching the lighting to LEDs. On the product level, resource efficiency improvements from the greenhouse can nearly halve the GHG emissions per kilogram of edible product. Nonetheless, it was also highlighted that the results can also be sensitive to the methodological and dataset choices made in the modeling, above all the source and datasets used for electricity. The results provide insights on the implications of environmental performance improvement measures taken at greenhouses, especially the sourcing for fuels to meet heating demands, and the effect it has on the performance of the products, which are important for both producers and wholesalers of the products. The study also adds to the developing literature on the environmental performance of controlled environment agriculture, providing empirical evidence from a real case in Sweden.

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