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Open AccessArticle

Environmental Impact of Edible Flower Production: A Case Study

Department of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, University of Torino, Largo Paolo Braccini 2, 10095 Grugliasco, Italy
Istituto Interuniversitario IRIS—Istituto Ricerche Interdisciplinari sulla Sostenibilità, Department of Earth Sciences (III floor), University of Torino, via Valperga Caluso 35, 10125 Torino, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 579;
Received: 2 March 2020 / Revised: 14 April 2020 / Accepted: 15 April 2020 / Published: 17 April 2020
Nowadays the heightened awareness of the critical trend in resource depletion impels to improve the eco − sustainability of any productive process. The research presented in this paper aims to quantify the environmental impact of the emerging productive process of edible flowers, focusing on two model species, i.e., Begonia x semperflorens − cultorum hort and Viola cornuta L., and two types of product, i.e., flowering potted plants sold in plastic vases and packaged flowers ready to be consumed. The study was carried out in an Italian nursery located in Tuscany, interviewing the owners in order to complete the Life Cycle Inventory, assessing the value of the impact categories, and using the “cradle to gate” approach. The information about the production of flowering potted plants and packaged flowers were inserted in a database and elaborated by the appropriate software. The results of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) analysis referred to 1 g of fresh edible flowers and were expressed in four impact categories. Global Warming Potential (GWP) values ranged from 24.94 to 31.25 g CO2 eq/g flowers, Acidification Potential (AP) ranged from 8.169E − 02 to 1.249E − 01 g SO2 eq/g flowers, Eutrophication Potential (EP) ranged from 3.961E − 02 to 5.284E − 02 g PO43 − eq/g flowers, and Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential (POCP) ranged from 8.998E − 03 to 1.134E − 02 g C2H4 eq/g flowers. Begonias showed lower emissions than violas in the GWP and POCP indexes, whereas violas showed lower values in the AP and EP impact categories. The most impactful phase was the propagation, accounting on average for 42% of the total emissions. Overall, the findings highlighted a higher environmental load for the production of both begonias and violas packaged flowers, especially if in small containers, rather than as potted plants, with an emission percentage increase from 8% to 17% among the impact categories. View Full-Text
Keywords: Life Cycle Assessment; greenhouse gas emissions; potted plants; container; Begonia semperflorens; Viola cornuta; nursery crops; annual bedding plants Life Cycle Assessment; greenhouse gas emissions; potted plants; container; Begonia semperflorens; Viola cornuta; nursery crops; annual bedding plants
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Falla, N.M.; Contu, S.; Demasi, S.; Caser, M.; Scariot, V. Environmental Impact of Edible Flower Production: A Case Study. Agronomy 2020, 10, 579.

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