Strengthening the sustainability of berry production (RB22001)
What is it all about?
This project is generating comprehensive data about the environmental impacts of raspberry and blackberry production in Australia using life cycle assessment (LCA) methods.
The findings will help berry growers and their industry associations understand the scale and significance of environmental impacts associated with current berry production systems and practices, which will inform the industry’s sustainability goals.
The study will focus on climate change impacts from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and impacts from water use . The LCA results generated by the project will include:
- A baseline account of GHG emissions for the industry as a whole
- A baseline account of water use / water scarcity impacts for the industry as a whole,
- Environmental performance metrics per kg of berry product at retail (carbon footprint, water footprint)
- Contributional analyses showing sources of impacts
- An assessment of the relative significance of impacts including against other food products.
LCAs will be conducted at two scales – farm-scale and industry-scale. The farm-scale LCAs will explore different production typologies and ground-truth the environmental improvement initiatives that the LCAs will aim to inform. The industry-scale LCA will generate environmental metrics that represent average and ranges of environmental performance to generate baselines and benchmarks.
The insights gained from the LCAs will be used to identify and recommend priority initiatives for reducing impacts, particularly GHG emissions (carbon footprint), but also water scarcity impacts if they are identified to be significant. This could be changes to material and energy inputs for growing operations and tunnel infrastructure, packaging formats and distribution methods that influence product losses, and fates for spent substrate and plastics.
The learnings will feed into the development of a prototype Excel-based tool to enable ongoing evaluation by growers of their environmental performance and improvements.
This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Raspberry and Blackberry Fund