Sustainability2015, 7(6), 6742-6758; doi:10.3390/su7066742 (registering DOI) - published 27 May 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This study investigates business engagement in sustainable water management, focusing on water footprint accounting as a tool to account for water use in food supply chains. An explorative analysis is conducted on the Barilla Company. The study explores two corporate strategies aimed at achieving more sustainable water use: the adoption of environmental products declarations (EPDs), a reporting system that accounts for the environmental footprints of Barilla’s pasta and other products; and the implementation of the Aureo Wheat Programme. The study deployed both primary and secondary data. The study shows that the largest share of the water footprint of pasta relates to the cultivation phase (over 90%), which is almost fully rainfed. EPDs show that the water footprint of the other phases of the supply chain is negligible. It is argued that the use of water footprinting in EPDs can raise awareness about water use in agricultural supply chains to reach a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including consumers. The study also shows that the implementation of the Aureo Wheat Programme, consisting of a shift in cultivation site and in the type of wheat, enabled a reduction in the blue water footprint of pasta, with water savings amounting to 35 million m3 of blue water since 2011.
Sustainability2015, 7(6), 6721-6741; doi:10.3390/su7066721 (registering DOI) - published 27 May 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: During the last few years, the definition of sustainability and the translation of its general principles into practical and operative tasks have come into the foreground of scientific research and political agendas throughout the world. The understanding and the evaluation of the environmental, social and economic performances of complex agricultural food systems is probably the real challenge, and the design of more sustainable alternatives has been recognized as necessary for a correct territorial management. This study’s primary goal is the proposition of an interpretive structure “Sustainable Agri-Food Evaluation Methodology” (SAEMETH), able to guide the evaluation of the sustainability of the various organizational forms of the small-scale agri-food supply chain. As a case study, the methodology was applied to 10 small-scale agri-food systems. The application of SAEMETH, as a monitoring tool based on qualitative indicators that are user-friendly and strongly communicative, demonstrates that it is possible to carry out sustainability evaluations of the small-scale agri-food systems through a long-term approach that is participatory, interdisciplinary and multi-institutional and that integrates a solid theoretical base with an operative framework tested in the field. SAEMETH can, in this way, generate a cyclical process that increases the probability of success in the design of sustainable alternatives and the implementation of projects and initiatives at the local/regional scale.
Sustainability2015, 7(6), 6706-6720; doi:10.3390/su7066706 (registering DOI) - published 27 May 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Although the problem of brownfields in urban territories is successfully limited, it is a negative phenomenon of a sustainable city. Moreover, the number of recently created brownfield territories has become higher than that of the regenerated ones. Such territories reduce the quality of the social and economic setting of a city as well as visually and physically affect the life quality of city residents. Unfortunately, methods for the revitalization of brownfield land have been applied to deal with the consequences of the problem rather than to limit the problem itself. The authors of the article have investigated the aspects to be avoided to not create brownfields. The indicators that enable predicting the probability of a territory becoming a brownfield have been analyzed in this paper. Countries develop and exist under different social and economic conditions. Therefore, there is no uniform and universally accepted system of indicators for brownfield prevention that can be applied in any country or city. The authors have attempted to implement a recently developed idea of indicators forprevention under Lithuanian conditions and have selected those facilitating the identification of brownfields with an aim of identifying the most significant ones warning about the potential harm from the creation of brownfields in Lithuania. The selected indicators have been grouped, taking into account social, economic, natural, building and infrastructure settings of the city and ranked by a group of experts in urban planning. The established hierarchy of indicators in the groups of urban setting has allowed the authors to select the most significant preventive indicators for brownfields. The created system of indicators could be applied in practice as a basis for monitoring pertinent data and tracking their change.
Sustainability2015, 7(6), 6684-6705; doi:10.3390/su7066684 - published 26 May 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Farmers need to make decisions that in most cases incorporate the concept of prediction and can hardly be revoked. One such decision is the application of fertilizing inputs. During past crop management and decision-making on fertilizing practices, many significant errors have been recorded, which have led and continue to lead to reduced production and environmental burden. The methodology followed in this paper involves the use of GIS, fuzzy logic and expert knowledge, in order to model physical processes associated with nitrogen balance in cultivated ecosystems and to evaluate the capabilities of or limitations on the use of certain fertilizers, based on spatial criteria. An original spatial decision support system was designed, developed and applied in a given study area. The system is composed of two modules (“fertilizing rate” and “fertilizing type”), making use of soil, climate and cultivation practices’ data, as recorded in the area of interest in quantitative or categorical form. The results of the application spatially classify the involved area according to its demand for nitrogen on the basis of the characteristics of each sub-region. The “fertilizing rate” module suggests reduced fertilizing doses of nitrogenous fertilizers compared to those already applied in the area. The system further divides the area into zones where specific types of fertilizers should be applied, giving a certain prescription for the method and time of application.
Sustainability2015, 7(6), 6665-6683; doi:10.3390/su7066665 - published 26 May 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Little information regarding the global water footprint of biofuels consumed in Europe is available. Therefore, the ultimate origin of feedstock underlying European biodiesel and bioethanol consumption was investigated and combined with the irrigation requirements of different crops in different countries. A (blue) water consumption of 1.9 m3 in 12 countries per GJ of European biodiesel and 3.3 m3 in 23 countries per GJ of bioethanol was determined. Even though this represents an increase by a factor of 60 and 40 compared to fossil diesel and gasoline, these figures are low compared to global average data. The assessment of local consequences has shown that the irrigation of sunflower seed in Spain causes 50% of the impacts resulting from biodiesel—even though it constitutes only 0.9% of the feedstock. In case of bioethanol production, the irrigation of sugar cane in Egypt, which constitutes only 0.7% of the underlying feedstock, causes 20% of the impacts. In a case study on passenger cars, it was shown that biofuels can reduce the global warming potential by circa 50% along the product life cycle. However, the price of this improvement is an approximate 19 times increased water consumption, and resulting local impacts are even more severe.
Sustainability2015, 7(6), 6652-6664; doi:10.3390/su7066652 - published 26 May 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A field study was conducted through interviews on offshore islands in Taiwan to investigate the energy usage of local residents. A comparison of household appliance usage in mainland Taiwan with that on the offshore islands revealed that, overall, the most commonly used household appliances are steam cookers/rice cookers, water dispensers, and washing machines. For other household appliances, Levels 2 and 3 offshore isles have lower use penetration rates compared with those in mainland Taiwan and on Level 1 offshore isles, particularly for the use of computers. By contrast, the use penetration rate for chest freezers on Levels 2 and 3 offshore isles is high, and each household has one or more freezers on average. This appliance is not a commonly observed household product in mainland Taiwan or on Level 1 offshore isles. Furthermore, because of the government policy, every household on parts of Level 2 offshore isles and on all Level 3 offshore isles has a fixed monthly charge of electricity. The transportation of liquefied petroleum gas is also inconvenient, and the gas price is slightly higher, leading to the tendency of residents to consume excessive amounts of electrical energy, which does not correspond with the aim of the government to conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions; thus, the relevant authorities’ review and improvement on energy consumption on Levels 2 and 3 offshore isles are required.