Comparison of Product Sustainability of Conventional and Low-Carbon Apples in Korea
life cycle assessment
Environmental effects of industries and plants
Renewable energy sources
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AbstractApple is Korea’s most representative fruit. This study calculated absolute and relative product sustainability through environmental and cost assessments on apples by cultivation farming. The ISO 14040 life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology was used as a method of environmental assessment. Primary data for one year, 2018, were collected for the environmental assessment of conventional and low-carbon farming. The eco-points of apples cultivated by conventional and low-carbon farming using the LCA 2.07 × 10<sup>−3</sup> and 1.17 × 10<sup>−3</sup>, respectively. The environmental impact of conventional apples was 78% higher than that of low-carbon apples. Cost assessment results show that every 1 kg of conventional and low-carbon apples costs USD 1.93 and USD 3.17, respectively, and their profits were USD 0.20 and USD 1.00, respectively. The total cost of conventional apples was lower than that of low-carbon apples, but its profit was one-fifth that of low-carbon apples. The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP)’s eco-efficiency method was used to calculate absolute sustainability, and the concept of factor X was introduced to evaluate relative sustainability. Absolute sustainability for conventional and low-carbon apples was 96.01 (USD/eco-point) and 853.03 (USD/eco-point), respectively. Low-carbon apples’ relative sustainability was computed in factor 8.89. Finally, if all farms that grow conventional apples shift to cultivating low-carbon apples, they can save 58,111 tons of carbon dioxide. This amount is at least 3.4% of the nation’s greenhouse gas reduction in the agricultural and livestock sectors. This study provides a clear reason for the agricultural sector to shift its cultivation method from conventional to eco-friendly farming, including low-carbon farming.