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Assessing the environmental benefits of practice change using the CaneLCA eco-efficiency calculator

Assessing the environmental benefits of practice change using the CaneLCA eco-efficiency calculator

International Sugar Journal 116(1390): 754-765

ISSN/ISBN: 0020-8841

Many sugar industry programs, such as BSES's Smart Cane program and the Reef Rescue ABCD Framework, promote progressive cane-growing practices. While the economic implications of transition towards progressive practices are starting to be understood, less is known about the environmental implications. Here, we use environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) to assess the eco-efficiency of different practice-change scenarios, across a range of impact categories - fossil energy input, greenhouse gas emissions (carbon footprint), water use, and water quality indicators. The recently developed CaneLCA Eco-efficiency Calculator was employed to compare progressive practices against conventional practices for Wet Tropics, Central and Southern regions, using published descriptions of practice change. The results show that many progressive practices, such as those currently described by the ABCD framework, can lead to improved environmental efficiency across all impact categories. However, others may come with some environmental trade-offs. This work provides a preliminary examination of the environmental implications of practice change. It also demonstrates how CaneLCA can be used to understand and manage such trade-offs so that practice change can optimised to maximise the benefits while minimising the trade-offs.

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Accession: 066289483

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