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Sustainability, Volume 12, Issue 16 (August-2 2020) – 404 articles

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Cover Story (view full-size image) Not long ago, it was difficult to imagine humans could permanently shift the geologic trajectory of [...] Read more.
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Open AccessArticle
On the Effect of Green Bonds on the Profitability and Credit Quality of Project Financing
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6695; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166695 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 476
Abstract
The relatively recent green bond market is increasingly attracting interest at the technical, regulatory, and academic research levels. Although a considerable body of research on green bonds focuses on the investor’s perspective, this study takes the perspective of a project finance sponsor to [...] Read more.
The relatively recent green bond market is increasingly attracting interest at the technical, regulatory, and academic research levels. Although a considerable body of research on green bonds focuses on the investor’s perspective, this study takes the perspective of a project finance sponsor to analyze whether there is a direct financial incentive for issuing green bonds in contrast to other types of financing. In order to measure the impact of green bond financing on the profitability and solvency of environmentally friendly investments, we study the sensitivity of the financial performance of a well-established project finance investment—the Sagunto regasification plant—to shifts in its financial structure. In particular, we develop a base case that allows us to study the impact of green financing compared to other financial structures typically used in project finance, under different scenarios. Our results show that in all cases, the internal rate of return (IRR) for shareholders is higher when green bonds instead of bank loans are issued to finance investments. Additionally, in the vast majority of the scenarios, green bond financing results in higher average debt service coverage ratios. Consequently, our results suggest that green bond financing constitutes a strong financial incentive for sponsors, which can help align their objectives with those of public authorities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Influence of Accession of the Visegrad Group Countries to the EU on the Situation in Their Labour Markets
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6694; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166694 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 364
Abstract
In 2004, ten new countries, including the Visegrad Group (V4) ones, accessed the European Union. These countries are ex-communist. They are still in the process of transition from a centrally planned to a free-market economy. It is interesting to check how their economies [...] Read more.
In 2004, ten new countries, including the Visegrad Group (V4) ones, accessed the European Union. These countries are ex-communist. They are still in the process of transition from a centrally planned to a free-market economy. It is interesting to check how their economies have changed after their accession to the EU. Reducing inequalities in labour markets is one of the aspects of sustainable development. The goal of this research is an assessment of the situation in the labour markets in the V4 countries with respect to the whole EU. The research was carried out on the data from Eurostat (2002–2019) and was conducted by means of the multidimensional scaling technique. Before joining the EU, the situation in the labour market in the V4 countries (excluding Czechia) was much worse than in most EU-member states. After joining the EU, the situation in these countries gradually improved. In 2019, the situation in the labour market in Czechia was one of the best in the EU and the remaining three V4 countries moved into the EU-average. The joining of the V4 countries to the EU had a positive impact on the situation in their labour markets. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Making Nautical Tourism Greener in the Mediterranean
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6693; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166693 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 366
Abstract
We analyze the elements determining the sustainability of nautical tourism in selected Mediterranean countries (Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Italy and Turkey). The purpose of our research is to investigate the main obstacles to greater application of renewable energy sources (RES) as the basis for [...] Read more.
We analyze the elements determining the sustainability of nautical tourism in selected Mediterranean countries (Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Italy and Turkey). The purpose of our research is to investigate the main obstacles to greater application of renewable energy sources (RES) as the basis for the sustainability of nautical tourism. The obtained results provide valuable information that can help companies and policy makers choose appropriate strategies to achieve the EU 2030 sustainability goals in this sector. Our survey among charter companies was conducted during 2018 on a sample of 51 respondents. We conclude that there is a serious lack of knowledge among nautical tourism respondents regarding the availability of financial instruments from EU funds intended for increasing energy efficiency and adoption of RES. Respondents were familiar with general measures to reduce energy costs but are not familiar with the measures and opportunities provided by available European funds. Our results confirm previous research indicating that significant savings in energy consumption can be achieved by using RES (especially photovoltaic (PV) modules) and that insufficient financial resources and lack of knowledge are the main obstacles to achieving higher adoption rates of RES and increasing energy efficiency in nautical tourism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Tourism, Culture, and Heritage)
Open AccessArticle
Influence of ICTs on Math Teaching–Learning Processes and Their Connection to the Digital Gender Gap
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6692; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166692 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 340
Abstract
This study presents research aimed at analyzing whether, in contrast with traditional methodologies, the usage of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the process of learning mathematics affects gender distinctions by affecting the low rate of matriculation of women into technological studies. The [...] Read more.
This study presents research aimed at analyzing whether, in contrast with traditional methodologies, the usage of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the process of learning mathematics affects gender distinctions by affecting the low rate of matriculation of women into technological studies. The research was carried out by utilizing a quasi-experimental pretest–posttest procedure using a non-equivalent control group with traditional teaching methodology (textbook and usual drawing tools), and an experimental group, in which a classroom wiki and its digital equivalents were used in the Cabri, Geogebra, and Descartes programs. A quantifiable comparison of the effects on teaching was performed by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of employing ICTs. The results show a higher motivation in the experimental group, evident in their learning and their better marks compared to those of the control group. In addition, in the pretest and posttest, women’s marks were better than those of men. In conclusion, the transformation of the teaching–learning methodologies in mathematics is demanded with the use of programs such as Dynamic Geometry or Geogebra, which enable greater student involvement and more meaningful and relevant learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Citizenship and Education)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effects of Morus alba L. Fortification on the Quality, Functional Properties and Sensory Attributes of Bread Stored under Refrigerated Conditions
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6691; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166691 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 307
Abstract
Mulberry is one of the most beneficial plant of our planet for sustainable development. White mulberry (Morus alba L.) is widely recognized for its health-promoting properties. It is characterized by a high content of bioactive compounds, mainly flavonoids, and has a strong [...] Read more.
Mulberry is one of the most beneficial plant of our planet for sustainable development. White mulberry (Morus alba L.) is widely recognized for its health-promoting properties. It is characterized by a high content of bioactive compounds, mainly flavonoids, and has a strong antioxidant effect, and thus can have a beneficial effect on health. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of freezing storage of bread with the addition of extract from mulberry leaves and fruits on the content of polyphenols, antioxidant activity and sensory properties. The stored bread with mulberry addition was characterized by high content of phenolic compounds, reducing and chelating activity and antiradical activity. The addition of mulberry had greater effect on the increase in the content of protocatechuic and chlorogenic acids, and isoquercetin among the flavonols. Bread enriched with mulberry was microbiologically clean and sensory accepted both after baking and after 30 days of storage under refrigerated conditions. White mulberry is a raw material which can be used as an addition to enrich refrigerated bread. The use of the extract and mulberry fruit to fortify bread is consistent with the principle of sustainable development due to the use of raw materials which are a good source of compounds contributing to the improvement of the well-being of the population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Functional Food as a Way to Provide Beneficial Nutrients)
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Open AccessArticle
Iron–Lysine Mediated Alleviation of Chromium Toxicity in Spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) Plants in Relation to Morpho-Physiological Traits and Iron Uptake When Irrigated with Tannery Wastewater
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6690; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166690 - 18 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 372
Abstract
Chromium (Cr) is among the most widespread toxic trace elements found in agricultural soils due to various anthropogenic activities. However, the role of micronutrient-amino chelates on reducing Cr toxicity in crop plants was recently introduced. In the current experiment, the exogenous application of [...] Read more.
Chromium (Cr) is among the most widespread toxic trace elements found in agricultural soils due to various anthropogenic activities. However, the role of micronutrient-amino chelates on reducing Cr toxicity in crop plants was recently introduced. In the current experiment, the exogenous application of micronutrients [iron (Fe)] chelated with amino acid [lysine (lys)] was examined, using an in vivo approach that involved plant growth and biomass, photosynthetic pigments and gaseous exchange parameters, oxidative stress indicators and antioxidant response. The uptake and accumulation of Fe and Cr were determined under different levels of tannery wastewater (33, 66, 100%) used along with the exogenous supplementation of Fe-lys (5 mM) to Spinacia oleracea plants. Results revealed that tannery wastewater in the soil decreased plant growth and growth-related attributes, photosynthetic apparatus and Fe contents in different parts of the plants. In contrast, the addition of different levels of tannery wastewater to the soil significantly increased the contents of malondialdehyde (MDA), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and electrolyte leakage (EL), which induced oxidative damage in the roots and leaves of S. oleracea plants. However, S. oleracea plants increased the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), catalase (CAT) and ascorbate peroxidase (APX), which scavenge the over-production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Cr toxicity can be overcome by the supplementation of Fe-lys, which significantly increased plant growth and biomass, improved photosynthetic machinery and increased the activities of different antioxidative enzymes, even in the plants grown under different levels of tannery wastewater in the soil. Furthermore, the supplementation of Fe-lys increased the contents of essential nutrients (Fe) and decreased the contents of Cr in all plant parts compared to the plants cultivated in tannery wastewater without application of Fe-lys. In conclusion, the application of Fe-lys is an innovative approach to mitigate Cr stress in spinach plants, which not only increased plant growth and biomass but also decreased the Cr contents in different plant organs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Methodology for Assessment of Alternative Waste Treatment Strategies Using Entropy Weights
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6689; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166689 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 302
Abstract
Energy recovery from municipal solid waste is one of the means to attain sustainable development. Multiple factors involving several location specific situations, both measurable and intangible, makes decision making for technology selection very difficult. In this paper, a multi criterion evaluation system for [...] Read more.
Energy recovery from municipal solid waste is one of the means to attain sustainable development. Multiple factors involving several location specific situations, both measurable and intangible, makes decision making for technology selection very difficult. In this paper, a multi criterion evaluation system for municipal solid waste treatment strategies is established on the basis of specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and trackable situations, to prove the effectiveness of this method. From among various alternatives, three prominent strategies, namely, incineration, anaerobic digestion and composting are considered for the evaluation. Exhaustive data collection is done from conducting field studies, as well as from published data. Three types of communities are evaluated by this technique, namely, typical cities in developed countries, ‘A’ grade cities in India and ‘B’ grade cities in India. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the effect of community specific situations on the right choice of waste disposal method using a technique for order of preference by similarity to ideal solution (TOPSIS) approach, where weights of criteria are determined by means of entropy weight method. The case study shows that the proposed evaluation results are reliable, which are more coincident with the reality, since the most relevant factors for selection have been used backed by exhaustive field data collection. Policy makers gain from the outcome of this study by guiding them through technology selection. So, the adopted approach should be promoted widely in the evaluation of waste treatment strategies, to realize sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Municipal Solid Waste Management)
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Open AccessEditorial
Rural Sustainable Environmental Management
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6688; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166688 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 367
Abstract
Rural environmental protection has received increasing attention in recent years. The economic development and population growth of rural areas results in many problems, such as environmental pollution, land degradation, resource depletion, biodiversity loss, income loss, and public health risks. Although much progress has [...] Read more.
Rural environmental protection has received increasing attention in recent years. The economic development and population growth of rural areas results in many problems, such as environmental pollution, land degradation, resource depletion, biodiversity loss, income loss, and public health risks. Although much progress has been made, many major challenges to rural environmental management remain to be addressed. The question of how to deal with these problems through sustainable approaches has become an urgent issue in rural areas. This Special Issue, “Rural Sustainable Environmental Management”, was dedicated to the perception of rural, sustainable environmental management based on the integration of economic, environmental, and social considerations. The Special Issue covered the topics about the rural land management and planning, sustainable rural water resources management, integrated simulation and optimization, rural environmental risk assessment and vulnerability analysis, rural water and wastewater treatment, rural environmental policy analysis, rural ecosystem protection and biodiversity recovery, and the characterization of emerging rural environmental problems and related solutions. A total of 24 high-quality papers were accepted after strict and rigorous review. These accepted papers focused on various perspectives of rural sustainable environmental management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Sustainable Environmental Management)
Open AccessArticle
A Sustainable Distributed Building Integrated Photo-Voltaic System Architecture with a Single Radial Movement Optimization Based MPPT Controller
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6687; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166687 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 337
Abstract
The solar photo-voltaic systems control architecture has a substantial influence over the cost, efficiency, and accuracy of maximum power point tracking under partial shading conditions. In this paper, a novel distributed architecture of a building integrated photo-voltaic system equipped with a single maximum [...] Read more.
The solar photo-voltaic systems control architecture has a substantial influence over the cost, efficiency, and accuracy of maximum power point tracking under partial shading conditions. In this paper, a novel distributed architecture of a building integrated photo-voltaic system equipped with a single maximum power point tracking controller is presented in order to address the drawbacks associated with respect to cost, complexity and efficiency of the existing photo-voltaic system architectures. In addition, a radial movement optimization based maximum power point tracking control algorithm is designed, developed, and validated using the proposed system architecture under five different partial shading conditions. The inferences obtained from the validation results of the proposed distributed system architecture indicated that cost was reduced by 75% when compared to the commonly used decentralised systems. The proposed distributed building integrated photo-voltaic system architecture is also more efficient, robust, reliable, and accurate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intelligent Mechatronic and Renewable Energy Systems)
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Open AccessArticle
Governmental Ownership of Voluntary Sustainability Information Disclosure in an Emerging Economy: Evidence from Vietnam
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6686; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166686 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 351
Abstract
Emerging economies have increasingly paid attention to sustainability issues in the business circle. However, few studies have explored what facilitates sustainability information disclosure. This study examines how corporate governance mechanisms, particularly government ownership, affect sustainability disclosure in an emerging economy—Vietnam. By combining related [...] Read more.
Emerging economies have increasingly paid attention to sustainability issues in the business circle. However, few studies have explored what facilitates sustainability information disclosure. This study examines how corporate governance mechanisms, particularly government ownership, affect sustainability disclosure in an emerging economy—Vietnam. By combining related research streams, including stakeholder theory, institutional perspective, and principal–agent theory, we present a hypothesis on the effect of corporate governance on sustainability reporting. The logistic regression analysis and analysis of variance on 2678 Vietnamese sample firm-years from 2010 through 2016 indicate that government ownership is negatively associated with voluntary environmental and social information disclosure. Additionally, they demonstrate that ownership concentration tends to lower non-financial information disclosure, while individual largest shareholder has a positive effect. These findings provide managers and policymakers with theoretical and practical implications to encourage firms in emerging Asian economies such as Vietnam to adopt sustainability activities and disclose social information. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Accounting and Accountability)
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Open AccessArticle
Municipal Health Promotion as Part of Urban Health: A Policy Framework for Action
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6685; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166685 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 323
Abstract
The link between health, socio-economic status and the living environment is increasingly moving into the focus of public health research and policy. The aim of the European Union’s Project “Joint Action Health Equity Europe (JAHEE)” is to enable countries to identify and implement [...] Read more.
The link between health, socio-economic status and the living environment is increasingly moving into the focus of public health research and policy. The aim of the European Union’s Project “Joint Action Health Equity Europe (JAHEE)” is to enable countries to identify and implement needs-based measures to promote health equity. In one of JAHEE’s work packages, focusing on healthy living environments as a strategy to tackle health inequities, a Policy Framework for Action (PFA) has been developed. This article gives an insight into the core contents of the PFA, which are valid beyond the project boundaries for all actors that work at the intersection of community health promotion. The PFA was developed as a consensus document in a participatory process between the members of the work package and an interdisciplinary German team of public health experts. Results from project meetings of the partner countries as well as research findings and recommendations from field experts were incorporated. Reducing health inequalities in public health is a cross-sectional issue that needs to be addressed across all policy areas. The municipality setting is of particular importance in this context, as it offers many starting points and can coordinate between all relevant actors with an overarching strategy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Health and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Application of the Integrated Design Process (IDP) Method to the Design of Riverside on the Example of Żmigród (Poland)
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6684; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166684 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 312
Abstract
Today, natural resources of urban areas have been given the rank of a necessary tool for combating climate change. Many cities are trying to manage biologically active areas of great quality by applying a blue-green infrastructure (BGI) strategy. Designing areas such as riverside [...] Read more.
Today, natural resources of urban areas have been given the rank of a necessary tool for combating climate change. Many cities are trying to manage biologically active areas of great quality by applying a blue-green infrastructure (BGI) strategy. Designing areas such as riverside areas belonging to BGI is particularly challenging. On the one hand, they are environmentally valuable areas requiring protection. On the other hand, they form urban public spaces subject to requirements of urban continuity as well as social and cultural conditions. The authors of the article argue that the optimal way of shaping riverside areas in cities that responds to diverse conditions (environmental, economic, legal, social) can be achieved by applying an integrated system of cooperation between designers known as the integrated design process (IDP) in the design process. The study aimed to answer the question of whether the integrated design process (IDP) that combines both the expert and social approach at the first stage, in the pre-concept phase may be optimal when developing riverside areas as part of blue-green infrastructure (BGI). The method was originally applied to architectural design, therefore the authors analyzed to what extent its assumptions may be used in the waterfront design process. First, the authors’ study compares design processes (traditional and integrated) for use in these processes of expert and social perspective. As a result, the integrated design process (IDP) has been considered as an optimal design process to create such areas. Then, the authors analyze the waterfront design process in Żmigród. The authors wanted to see to what extent the process corresponds to the assumptions of the IDP method. The authors point out the stages that implement assumptions of the IDP method partially or not at all and indicate the reasons for such a situation. The authors evaluated the role of various stakeholders. The analysis and critique of Żmigród case study presented here provide conclusions regarding the possibilities and limitations of the IDP method when implementing blue-green infrastructure projects in a small town. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Economic and Environmental Assessment of Carbon Emissions from Demolition Waste Based on LCA and LCC
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6683; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166683 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 259
Abstract
In China, urban renewal and renovation projects generate a large amount of demolition waste every year, the disposal of which has certain impacts on the environment. Therefore, more effective policies should be implemented for the management of demolition waste. This study combines life [...] Read more.
In China, urban renewal and renovation projects generate a large amount of demolition waste every year, the disposal of which has certain impacts on the environment. Therefore, more effective policies should be implemented for the management of demolition waste. This study combines life cycle assessment (LCA) with life cycle costing (LCC) to analyze the environmental and economic drivers of three different waste disposal scenarios in Guangzhou, China, in the context of carbon trading: S1 (landfilling), S2 (recycled aggregate), and S3 (recycled powder). In this study, the carbon emissions of demolition waste were obtained by LCA, and the carbon emission cost was calculated based on the carbon price in the carbon trading market of Guangdong Province. The LCA results showed that waste recycling can greatly reduce carbon emissions. The results showed that compared to S1, S2 reduced 6.790 × 108 kg CO2 eq. Additionally, S3 reduced 4.172 × 108 kg CO2 eq. compared to S2. The LCC results show that waste recycling can greatly reduce the total costs of the demolition sector, while the production of recycled powder can generate 57.35% of the revenue from recycled aggregate to the recycling plant. This study combines LCA and LCC, and considers environmental factors to assess the economic results using carbon emissions cost, thereby forging a new exploration method in the field of life cycle theory. The findings of this study could provide a basis for the formulation of a new demolition waste management policy. In the case of the gradual implementation of carbon trading, it could also provide new ideas for current demolition waste treatment from economic and environmental perspectives. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Economic Impact of a New Type of Ripening Chamber in Traditional Cheese Manufacturing
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6682; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166682 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 279
Abstract
A new prototype of a ripening chamber was proposed in the CFD4CHEESE project aiming to evaluate the application of computational fluid dynamics in the optimization of traditional cheeses ripening conditions. With the purpose of evaluating the possible impact on the energy cost of [...] Read more.
A new prototype of a ripening chamber was proposed in the CFD4CHEESE project aiming to evaluate the application of computational fluid dynamics in the optimization of traditional cheeses ripening conditions. With the purpose of evaluating the possible impact on the energy cost of cheese ripening in three Portuguese regions (Setúbal, Évora, and Beja), we demonstrated the potential economic benefits of the prototype. The proposed automation process would imply higher productive efficiency, reducing the consumption of water and electricity. The simple consideration of the reduction of electricity costs is enough to recover the investment needed to have the new ripening chambers, meaning that the investment is economically viable. In addition to the economic impact in firms, which are mostly small and medium firms, our results also contribute to an increase on the sustainable use of natural resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Competitiveness of SMEs)
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Open AccessArticle
Monetary Valuation and Internalization of Externalities in German Agriculture Using the Example of Nitrate Pollution: A Case-Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6681; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166681 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 285
Abstract
Plants are dependent on nitrogen for their growth. However, if more plant nutrients are deposited than the plant can absorb, the excess nitrogen seeps into the soil where it accumulates as nitrate. About 74% of the drinking water produced in Germany comes from [...] Read more.
Plants are dependent on nitrogen for their growth. However, if more plant nutrients are deposited than the plant can absorb, the excess nitrogen seeps into the soil where it accumulates as nitrate. About 74% of the drinking water produced in Germany comes from groundwater. The legal limit of 50 milligrams of nitrate per liter of fresh water is exceeded frequently in Germany, especially in agricultural areas. High levels of nitrate in drinking water can quickly lead to health issues, under certain conditions. The nitrate problem is omnipresent in Germany. However, studies which determine the externalized costs of nitrogen eutrophication are mostly missing. The present study closes this gap by combining the results of a transdisciplinary investigation from hydrological analyses and environmental-economic calculations. Water samples were taken from a deep well in Hauneck, which is a municipality in Hesse (Germany). Afterwards, an isotope analysis was carried out to determine the groundwater residence time and possible sources of nitrate. Thus, in addition to the sources of pollution, concrete social costs were determined, using a damage cost approach as well as an avoidance cost approach. For Hauneck, it was found that about 54% of the drinking water price is directly linked to the externalization of costs. These are borne via the principle of the common burden. In addition, the isotope investigations have shown that the removal of excess nitrate will continue for decades, which will lead to long term external costs. The paper reveals how the internalization of these costs can contribute to the conservation of water resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Common-Pool Resources and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Spatiotemporal Dynamics and Driving Forces of Ecosystem Changes: A Case Study of the National Barrier Zone, China
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6680; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166680 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 275
Abstract
It is of great significance to study the spatiotemporal dynamics of the ecosystem and explore the driving forces that affect change in the ecosystem in the National Barrier Zone (NBZ). Based on multi-source remote sensing data, this paper analyzed the change in the [...] Read more.
It is of great significance to study the spatiotemporal dynamics of the ecosystem and explore the driving forces that affect change in the ecosystem in the National Barrier Zone (NBZ). Based on multi-source remote sensing data, this paper analyzed the change in the ecosystem in the NBZ from 2000 to 2015. Natural and social economic factors were selected as the driving factors, and the change mechanism of the ecological system in the NBZ area was analyzed by means of redundancy analysis and other methods. The results showed the following: (1) Between 2000 and 2015, the ecosystem changes in the NBZ are obvious. It is important to note that the grassland and urban ecosystem increased by 13,952 and 6720 km2, respectively; at the same time, the desert ecosystem significantly decreased by 4544 km2. (2) The human activity represented by gross domestic product (GDP) is the main factor in the change of ecosystem change in the NBZ with a contribution of 75%, especially in the ecological barrier of the Sichuan–Yunnan–Loess plateau with a GDP contribution rate of 83%. (3) The changes in the ecosystems are significantly influenced by multifactorial interactions, such as the joint contribution rate of the drought index (PDSI) and GDP reaching 0.11 in the ecological barrier of Qinghai–Tibet plateau. (4) The ecological protection projects, such as the Green for Grain Project in the NBZ, play a positive role, and the ecological environment is improving. The conclusions of this paper will be used as a basic theory to contribute to subsequent research on ecosystem services, policy making, and other aspects in the NBZ. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainability in Community Building: Framing Design Thinking Using a Complex Adaptive Systems Perspective
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6679; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166679 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 325
Abstract
Complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory is acquiring mainstream recognition in sustainable community building. In this paper, we bring the applicability of CAS theory into sharper focus, highlighting its potential for integrating complexity and adaptivity of community into a structured body of knowledge while [...] Read more.
Complex adaptive systems (CAS) theory is acquiring mainstream recognition in sustainable community building. In this paper, we bring the applicability of CAS theory into sharper focus, highlighting its potential for integrating complexity and adaptivity of community into a structured body of knowledge while also providing a thought pattern for generating, implementing and validating new design ideas. Therefore, this paper aims to propose a framework of design thinking that uses a CAS perspective to aid designers in conceiving new community building design ideas efficiently. Next, this paper presents the results of a cognitive design experiment where functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and extended protocol analysis methods were combined to examine the validities of the proposed design thinking framework in community building. The results show that the Agent-Interaction-Adaptation (AIA) design thinking framework has the ability to promote designers’ extension of idea space, brain activation and idea quality in contrast to a traditional design thinking framework, but it did not significantly increase the designers’ idea quantity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Characterization of Various Biomass Feedstock Suitable for Small-Scale Energy Plants as Preliminary Activity of Biocheaper Project
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6678; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166678 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 225
Abstract
The PRIN (Research Project with Relevant National Interest) project “Biocheaper—biomasses circular holistic economy approach to energy equipments” started in September 2019 and involves several universities: Palermo as the university coordinator, Perugia, Cassino, Enna, Pavia and Bolzano. The main goal of the project is [...] Read more.
The PRIN (Research Project with Relevant National Interest) project “Biocheaper—biomasses circular holistic economy approach to energy equipments” started in September 2019 and involves several universities: Palermo as the university coordinator, Perugia, Cassino, Enna, Pavia and Bolzano. The main goal of the project is to increase the energy efficiency and reduce the pollutants emissions in small-scale biomass plant for energy (heat and power) production. The project focuses on residual lignocellulosic feedstocks from the agriculture and forestry sector, from energy crops in marginal lands and residues from rivers maintenance. Starting from the selection and characterization of potential feedstocks, the project aims at developing some prototypes for retrofit applications in existing biomass boilers, like a mini-cyclone for the reduction of particulate emissions and an exhaust air-water condensing system for the recovery of water and the reuse in agriculture. This work presents the first results of the project, in particular regarding the selection and the chemical–physical characterization of different biomass, available in different zones of Italy; in particular the authors investigated cardoon chips, carthamus chips, olive and wine pruning, residues from rivers maintenance. Each biomass sample was characterized in terms of moisture content, ashes content, volatile substances, fixed carbon, low and high heating value, content of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and main metals. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Exploring Mission-Oriented Innovation Ecosystems for Sustainability: Towards a Literature-Based Typology
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6677; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166677 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 414
Abstract
With mounting sustainability challenges, policy makers have embraced the idea of transformative, mission-oriented innovation policies, to direct innovation objectives towards the ‘grand challenges’ in recent years. Against this backdrop, the discourse on innovation ecosystems, bringing together actors from science, industry, government and civil [...] Read more.
With mounting sustainability challenges, policy makers have embraced the idea of transformative, mission-oriented innovation policies, to direct innovation objectives towards the ‘grand challenges’ in recent years. Against this backdrop, the discourse on innovation ecosystems, bringing together actors from science, industry, government and civil society for collaborative research and innovation, has increasingly gained traction. Yet, their role and architectural set-up in a sustainability context remains rather poorly understood. Complementing a systematic literature review with methods of bibliometric analysis and typology building, this paper introduces a typology of mission-oriented innovation ecosystems. It finds that, depending on the type of mission they are trying to address, ecosystems differ, with both a view to the actors involved, and the specific role taken on by them throughout the innovation process. In particular, it points to an increasingly important role of the state for realizing system-level transformations, underlines the importance of civil society involvement, and highlights research organizations’ need to adapt to new requirements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovation Ecosystems: A Sustainability Perspective)
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Open AccessArticle
Quantifying Regulating Ecosystem Services with Increased Tree Densities on European Farmland
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6676; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166676 - 18 Aug 2020
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Abstract
Agroforestry systems have been compared to agricultural and forestry alternatives, providing a land-use solution for additional environmental benefits while maintaining similar levels of productivity. However, there is scarce research assessing such patterns across a pan-European scale using a common methodology. This study aims [...] Read more.
Agroforestry systems have been compared to agricultural and forestry alternatives, providing a land-use solution for additional environmental benefits while maintaining similar levels of productivity. However, there is scarce research assessing such patterns across a pan-European scale using a common methodology. This study aims to improve our understanding of the role of trees in three different regulating ecosystem services—(1) soil erosion, (2) nitrate leaching and (3) carbon sequestration—in traditional and innovative agroforestry systems in Europe through a consistent modeling approach. The systems’ assessment spans environmentally from the Mediterranean environmental region in Portugal to the Continental environmental region in Switzerland and Germany to the Atlantic environmental region in the United Kingdom. Modeled tree densities were compared in the different land-use alternatives, ranging from zero (agriculture with only crops or pasture) to forestry (only trees). The methodology included the use of a biophysical model (Yield-SAFE) where the quantification of the environmental benefits was integrated. Results show a consistent improvement of regulating ecosystem services can be expected when introducing trees in the farming landscapes in different environmental regions in Europe. For all the systems, the forestry alternatives presented the best results in terms of a decrease in soil erosion of 51% (±29), a decrease of nearly all the nitrate leaching (98% ± 1) and an increase in the carbon sequestration of up to 238 Mg C ha−1 (±140). However, these alternatives are limited in the variety of food, energy and/or materials provided. On the other hand, from an arable or pure-pasture alternative starting point, an increase in agroforestry tree density could also be associated with a decrease in soil erosion of up to 25% (±17), a decrease in nitrates leached of up to 52% (±34) and an increase in the carbon sequestered of 163 Mg C ha−1 (±128) while at the same time ensuring the same levels of biomass growth and an increase in product diversification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tree Density Modelling and Ecosystem Services)
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Open AccessArticle
Urbanization Impacts on Natural Habitat and Ecosystem Services in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao “Megacity”
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6675; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166675 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 263
Abstract
The population aggregation and built-up area expansion caused by urbanization can have significant impacts on the supply and distribution of crucial ecosystem services. The correlation between urbanization and ecosystem services has been well-studied, but additional research is needed to better understand the spatiotemporal [...] Read more.
The population aggregation and built-up area expansion caused by urbanization can have significant impacts on the supply and distribution of crucial ecosystem services. The correlation between urbanization and ecosystem services has been well-studied, but additional research is needed to better understand the spatiotemporal interactions between ecosystem services and urbanization processes in highly urbanized areas as well as surrounding rural areas. In this paper, the relationships of urbanization with natural habitat and three key regulating ecosystem services—water retention, soil conservation, and carbon sequestration, were quantified and mapped for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), a rapidly developing urban agglomeration of over 70 million people, for the period of 2000–2018. Our results showed that urbanization caused a general decline in ecosystem services, and urbanization and ecosystem services exhibited a negative spatial correlation. However, this relationship varied along urban-rural gradients and weak decoupling was the overall trend during the course of the study period, indicating a greater need for the protection and improvement of ecosystem services. Our results provide instructive insights for new urbanization planning to maintain regional ecosystem services and sustainable development in the GBA and other large, rapidly urbanized agglomerations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Using Wastes from the Process of Blasting with Steel Shot to Make a Radiation Shield in Mortar
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6674; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166674 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 385
Abstract
The waste generated from the process of steel shot blasting must be safely disposed of due to its classification, non-hazardous and non-inert, and, consequently, is sent to landfills. One of the possibilities for reusing this waste is in the cement materials industry. In [...] Read more.
The waste generated from the process of steel shot blasting must be safely disposed of due to its classification, non-hazardous and non-inert, and, consequently, is sent to landfills. One of the possibilities for reusing this waste is in the cement materials industry. In this context, the aim of this study was to evaluate the addition of waste from steel shot blasting, thereby replacing natural sand, for the manufacture of cementitious material with properties that shield against ionizing radiation. Three forms of steel shot (commercial steel shot—AG1, intermediate steel shot waste—AG2, and steel shot dust—AG3) were used to replace natural sand in different proportions (0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, and 40% by volume). Compressive strength results were found with values above the minimum compressive strength (20 MPa) requirement of structural concrete. The results indicated that AG1, AG2, and AG3 can be used to attenuate X-ray radiation. Regarding the reference samples (mortar developed without natural sand replacement), an increase in X-ray shielding of 76.7%, 72.5%, and 59.3% was found for samples with AG1, AG2, and AG3, respectively. Therefore, the waste generated in the steel shot blasting process had the potential to be used in mortar developed to attenuate X-ray radiation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Materials)
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Open AccessArticle
A Comparative Automated Text Analysis of Airbnb Reviews in Hong Kong and Singapore Using Latent Dirichlet Allocation
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6673; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166673 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 262
Abstract
Airbnb has emerged as a platform where unique accommodation options can be found. Due to the uniqueness of each accommodation unit and host combination, each listing offers a one-of-a-kind experience. As consumers increasingly rely on text reviews of other customers, managers are also [...] Read more.
Airbnb has emerged as a platform where unique accommodation options can be found. Due to the uniqueness of each accommodation unit and host combination, each listing offers a one-of-a-kind experience. As consumers increasingly rely on text reviews of other customers, managers are also increasingly gaining insight from customer reviews. Thus, this present study aimed to extract those insights from reviews using latent Dirichlet allocation, an unsupervised type of topic modeling that extracts latent discussion topics from text data. Findings of Hong Kong’s 185,695 and Singapore’s 93,571 Airbnb reviews, two long-term rival destinations, were compared. Hong Kong produced 12 total topics that can be categorized into four distinct groups whereas Singapore’s optimal number of topics was only five. Topics produced from both destinations covered the same range of attributes, but Hong Kong’s 12 topics provide a greater degree of precision to formulate managerial recommendations. While many topics are similar to established hotel attributes, topics related to the host and listing management are unique to the Airbnb experience. The findings also revealed keywords used when evaluating the experience that provide more insight beyond typical numeric ratings. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Visualized Co-Simulation of Adaptive Human Behavior and Dynamic Building Performance: An Agent-Based Model (ABM) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Approach for Smart Architectural Design
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6672; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166672 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 292
Abstract
Human (occupant) behavior has been a topic of active research in the study of architecture and energy. To integrate the work of architectural design with techniques of building performance simulation in the presence of responsive human behavior, this study proposes a computational framework [...] Read more.
Human (occupant) behavior has been a topic of active research in the study of architecture and energy. To integrate the work of architectural design with techniques of building performance simulation in the presence of responsive human behavior, this study proposes a computational framework that can visualize and evaluate space occupancy, energy use, and generative envelope design given a space outline. A design simulation platform based on the visual programming language (VPL) of Rhino Grasshopper (GH) and Python is presented so that users (architects) can monitor real-time occupant response to space morphology, environmental building operation, and the formal optimization of three-dimensional (3D) building space. For dynamic co-simulation, the Building Controls Virtual Test Bed, Energy Plus, and Radiance were interfaced, and the agent-based model (ABM) approach and Gaussian process (GP) were applied to represent agents’ self-learning adaptation, feedback, and impact on room temperature and illuminance. Hypothetical behavior scenarios of virtual agents with experimental building geometry were produced to validate the framework and its effectiveness in supporting dynamic simulation. The study’s findings show that building energy and temperature largely depend on ABMs and geometry configuration, which demonstrates the importance of coupled simulation in design decision-making. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Social Life Cycle Assessment of Product Value Chains Under a Circular Economy Approach: A Case Study in the Plastic Packaging Sector
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6671; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166671 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 313
Abstract
Environmental and economic impact assessment of products have a long record, while social performance analysis of products have less references in the scientific literature due its particularities and the adaptations needed for the features of the studied subject. In addition, there is a [...] Read more.
Environmental and economic impact assessment of products have a long record, while social performance analysis of products have less references in the scientific literature due its particularities and the adaptations needed for the features of the studied subject. In addition, there is a lack of a methodological framework of its application in the analysis of value chains, with the aim of estimating the impacts of technical innovations from the social point of view. This paper describes the theoretical framework and impact assessment approach for the Social Life Cycle Assessment of product value chains under a circular economy approach by applying a scoring system in different subcategories and indicators, considering the plastic packaging sector as a case study. Twelve subcategories have been chosen, because of their relevance to the case study, related to the impacts on the labor conditions, consumers’ well-being, end-of-life of the product, local community conditions, technology and suppliers, among others. The validation of the methodology in the plastic packaging sector is done by considering the main stakeholders involved in the value chain and the particularities of the sector. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
DISARM Early Warning System for Wildfires in the Eastern Mediterranean
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6670; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166670 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 420
Abstract
This paper discusses the main achievements of DISARM (Drought and fIre ObServatory and eArly waRning system) project, which developed an early warning system for wildfires in the Eastern Mediterranean. The four pillars of this system include (i) forecasting wildfire danger, (ii) detecting wildfires [...] Read more.
This paper discusses the main achievements of DISARM (Drought and fIre ObServatory and eArly waRning system) project, which developed an early warning system for wildfires in the Eastern Mediterranean. The four pillars of this system include (i) forecasting wildfire danger, (ii) detecting wildfires with remote sensing techniques, (iii) forecasting wildfire spread with a coupled weather-fire modeling system, and (iv) assessing the wildfire risk in the frame of climate change. Special emphasis is given to the innovative and replicable parts of the system. It is shown that for the effective use of fire weather forecasting in different geographical areas and in order to account for the local climate conditions, a proper adjustment of the wildfire danger classification is necessary. Additionally, the consideration of vegetation dryness may provide better estimates of wildfire danger. Our study also highlights some deficiencies of both EUMETSAT (Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) and LSA-SAF (Satellite Application Facility on Land Surface Analysis) algorithms in their skill to detect wildfires over islands and near the coastline. To tackle this issue, a relevant modification is proposed. Furthermore, it is shown that IRIS, the coupled atmosphere-fire modeling system developed in the frame of DISARM, has proven to be a valuable supporting tool in fire suppression actions. Finally, assessment of the wildfire danger in the future climate provides the necessary context for the development of regional adaptation strategies to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Hazards and Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
Enabling Mass Customization and Manufacturing Sustainability in Industry 4.0 Context: A Novel Heuristic Algorithm for in-Plant Material Supply Optimization
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6669; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166669 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 279
Abstract
The fourth industrial revolution and the digital transformation of consumer markets require contemporary manufacturers to rethink and reshape their business models to deal with the ever-changing customer demands and market turbulence. Manufacturers nowadays are inclined toward product differentiation strategies and more customer-focused approaches [...] Read more.
The fourth industrial revolution and the digital transformation of consumer markets require contemporary manufacturers to rethink and reshape their business models to deal with the ever-changing customer demands and market turbulence. Manufacturers nowadays are inclined toward product differentiation strategies and more customer-focused approaches to stay competitive in the Industry 4.0 environment, and mass customization and product diversification are among the most commonly implemented business models. Under such circumstances, an economical material supply to assembly lines has become a significant concern for manufacturers. Consequently, the present study deals with optimizing the material supply to mixed-model assembly lines that contribute to the overall production cost efficiency, mainly via the reduction of both the material transportation and material holding costs across production lines, while satisfying certain constraints. Given the complexity of the problem, a novel two-stage heuristic algorithm is developed in this study to enable a cost-efficient delivery. To assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the proposed heuristic algorithm, a set of test problems are solved and compared against the best solution found by a commercial solver. The results of the comparison reveal that the suggested heuristic provides reasonable solutions, thus offering immense opportunities for production cost efficiency and manufacturing sustainability under the mass customization philosophy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Energy Sustainability)
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Open AccessArticle
A Multi-Objective Model for Sustainable Perishable Food Distribution Considering the Impact of Temperature on Vehicle Emissions and Product Shelf Life
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6668; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166668 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 280
Abstract
The food distribution process is responsible for significant quality loss in perishable products. However, preserving quality is costly and consumes a tremendous amount of energy. To tackle the challenge of minimizing transportation costs and CO2 emissions while also maximizing product freshness, a [...] Read more.
The food distribution process is responsible for significant quality loss in perishable products. However, preserving quality is costly and consumes a tremendous amount of energy. To tackle the challenge of minimizing transportation costs and CO2 emissions while also maximizing product freshness, a novel multi-objective model is proposed. The model integrates a vehicle routing problem with temperature, shelf life, and energy consumption prediction models, thereby enhancing its accuracy. Non-dominated sorting genetic algorithm II is adapted to solve the proposed model for the set of Solomon test data. The conflicting nature of these objectives and the sensitivity of the model to shelf life and shipping container temperature settings are analyzed. The results show that optimizing freshness objective degrade the cost and the emission objectives, and the distribution of perishable foods are sensible to the shelf life of the perishable foods and temperature settings inside the container. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Optimized Design of Earth Dams: Analysis of Zoning and Heterogeneous Material in Its Core
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6667; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166667 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 235
Abstract
To control the seepage in the design of an earth dam, guidelines prescribe a high proportion of fines and high homogeneity of geotechnical characteristics in the material used for the dam core. However, on many occasions there is no material of this nature [...] Read more.
To control the seepage in the design of an earth dam, guidelines prescribe a high proportion of fines and high homogeneity of geotechnical characteristics in the material used for the dam core. However, on many occasions there is no material of this nature near the dam placement and, from an economic or environmental point of view, it is not possible to locate and transport material with good geotechnical characteristics close to the dam. This research demonstrated the possibility of using impermeable materials in earth dam cores, as well as soils considered unsuitable according to the classic recommendations and guidelines. For an optimized design, two situations are analyzed here. First, we examined the possibility of using soil with a marked difference in grain size as the core of the dam, each with homogeneous geotechnical properties. In this case, the optimal zoning of up to three types of materials was studied to ensure adequate seepage control. Second, we examined the use of soil with great geotechnical heterogeneity, which presents high permeability dispersion. In such a case, the conditions that would allow its use were studied via the of Montecarlo analysis. By maintaining the soil’s global heterogeneity, it was possible to study an unlimited disposition of layers of different permeability. In the first situation, the results showed that the most effective zoning for decreasing seepage flow corresponded with three vertically set materials. In this design, the most optimized zoning (minimal seepage flow rates) corresponded to the most impermeable soil situated downstream when water heights were under 90% of the height of the dam core. However, for maximum water height, more optimized cases corresponded to the intermediate permeability material located downstream. In the second situation, when heterogeneous materials were used to construct the impervious element of the dams, the Montecarlo analysis indicated that the seepage flow rates were limited to sufficiently low values despite the large dispersion of material permeability. In addition, the highest maximum hydraulic gradients were observed in the lowest lifts of the dam core and for situations in which the seepage flow rates were moderate and low. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Engineering and Science)
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Open AccessArticle
Decisional Factors Driving Household Food Waste Prevention: Evidence from Taiwanese Families
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6666; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166666 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 269
Abstract
Although previous studies have discussed food waste at the household level and the antecedents of food disposal in western countries, very few studies have investigated food waste practices in Asian countries at the household or individual levels. As the food waste issue has [...] Read more.
Although previous studies have discussed food waste at the household level and the antecedents of food disposal in western countries, very few studies have investigated food waste practices in Asian countries at the household or individual levels. As the food waste issue has drawn considerable concerns, the aim of this study was to examine how moral norms, perceived behavioral control, and food choices affect household food waste under the mediating role of household storing and cooking routines, as well as the moderating role of unplanned events. A questionnaire survey of Taiwanese families eventually obtained 954 valid questionnaires for analysis. Overall model fit and the study hypotheses were tested by structural equation modeling method (SEM). The SEM results showed that household storing and cooking routines significantly mediate the effects of moral norms and food choices on household food waste. Moreover, the moderating effect of unplanned events is statistically significant, indicating that under a higher degree of unplanned events, families are less likely to reduce food waste through household storage practices and cooking routines. Several implications and suggestions are also discussed for the reduction of household food waste. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Food)
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