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An investigation into the environmental impacts of container choices on the UBC Farm Ritland, Kelvin; Oliveira, Reid; Johnson, Quinn; Jiang, Jiahui; Foolad, Yasaman Apr 8, 2014

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 UBC Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) Student ReportJiahui Jiang, Kelvin Ritland, Reid Oliveira, Yasaman Foolad, Quinn JohnsonAn Investigation into the Environmental Impacts of Container Choices on the UBC FarmAPSC 262April 08, 201410401629University of British Columbia Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report”.  APSC 262An Investigation into the EnvironmentalImpacts of Container Choices on the UBCFarmAuthors:Kelvin RitlandReid OliveraQuinn JohnsonJiahui JiangYasaman FooladInstructor:Dr. Dawn MillsApril 8, 2014AbstractThe UBC farm uses plastic Rubbermaid totes and InterCrate crates for a variety of tasks such asharvest, storage, and shipping. However, they were concerned with the containers’ economic, social,and environmental costs. This report presents the evaluation of the environmental costs of usingreusable plastic containers which need to be continually washed in comparison to four other possiblealternatives: cardboard boxes, wax-lined cardboard boxes, wooden boxes, and cardboard boxeswith biodegradable liners. Due to food safety considerations and lack of structural practicality,cardboard boxes, wooden boxes and biodegradable liners were eliminated as options. Therefore,wax lined cardboard boxes were left as the most favorable alternative. Closer investigation ofplastic containers versus waxed cardboard boxes was then done through comparative analysis ofthe environmental impacts on a scale based on solid waste, water emissions, air emissions, waterusage, and CO2 emissions. This analysis showed that the plastic containers yielded far betterenvironmental results in all factors except water usage by a factor of about 15. Overall, therecommendation presented is to continue with the current practice of plastic containers, favouringlighter local ones where possible.iiTable of ContentsAbstract iiList of Figures ivList of Tables ivGlossary vList of Abbreviations vi1 Introduction 12 Plastic Tote Life Cycle 22.1 Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.1.1 Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.1.2 Polypropylene (PP) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32.2 Company Specifics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42.2.1 Rubbermaid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42.2.2 InterCrate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62.3 Farm Usage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62.4 Disposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72.5 Totals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82.5.1 LDPE Rubbermaid Tote . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82.5.2 PP InterCrate Container . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Alternatives 103.1 Cardboard Boxes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103.2 Wax-Lined Cardboard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103.3 Wood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113.4 Biodegradable Liners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113.5 Overall Comparison of Alternatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Waxed Cardboard Box Life Cycle 134.1 Manufacture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134.2 Farm Usage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144.3 Disposal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154.4 Totals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 Comparative Assessment 166 Conclusion and Recommendations 19References 20A Washing Data from the UBC Farm 22iiiList Of Figures2.1 The low density polyethylene manufacturing process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22.2 The polypropylene manufacturing process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34.1 Cross section of corrugated cardboard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134.2 The paper production process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135.1 Overall comparison of cardboard to plastic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17List Of Tables2.1 Environmental effects of low density polyethylene manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . 32.2 Environmental effects of polypropylene manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42.3 Reduction in waste achieved by Rubbermaid Commercial Products . . . . . . . . . . 42.4 Emissions from transporting 0.62 tons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52.5 Environmental effects of recycling 1 kg of plastic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72.6 Net environmental effects of one Rubbermaid tote . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82.7 Net environmental effects of one InterCrate Crate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94.1 Environmental effects of producing 1 kg of cardboard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144.2 Environmental effects of a cardboard box . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155.1 Overall comparison of cardboard to plastic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16A.1 UBC farm washing data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22ivGlossaryCO2eq The amount of carbon dioxide that would have tobe released to cause the equivalent amount of globalwarming from some effectLow Density Polyethylene A solid recyclable plastic used by Rubbermaid for theirtotesParaffin An oil byproduct useful for repelling water, used inwaxed cardboard as a linerPolypropylene A solid recyclable plastic used by InterCrate to maketheir cratesvList of AbbreviationsLDPE Low Density PolyethyleneMJ MegajoulePP PolypropyleneRCP Rubbermaid Commercial ProductsviSection 1.0 IntroductionThe UBC Farm is the last working farm in Vancouver, growing nearly 60,000 pounds of fruitsand vegetables annually as of 2014, which are sold and distributed through a number of markets.They have expressed concerns about the social, environmental, and economic impacts of theircurrent method of harvesting, transporting and storing produce: using plastic containers fromRubbermaid and InterCrate. Instead, they wished to explore alternative containers and methodsof achieving these tasks.This report presents an assessment of several alternative containers for use in their currentsystem, including wooden boxes and a few kinds of cardboard boxes. In order to provide a focusedanalysis of the issue, the different choices were assessed only for their environmental impact. Theseenvironmental concerns were quantified based on the life cycle of the materials (from manufacturing,transportation, use, and disposal) on a scale based on energy consumption, water consumption, airemissions, water emissions, and CO2eq.The evaluation of the life cycle of the plastic containers on this scale is presented first. Then,the analysis of the best alternative among some possible options based on practicality and broadenvironmental effects will be shown, followed by the life cycle analysis of this alternative. Finally,the comparative analysis of the plastic containers to the best alternative shows the conclusions andrecommendations of this report.1Section 2.0 Plastic Tote Life CycleThe UBC farm had two main kinds of containers in use: Rubbermaid totes, and InterCratecrates. The methodology used to analyze these containers’ life cycle was to divide the life cycle upinto the manufacturing, usage, and disposal stages, and evaluate each stage’s environmental impacton a scale using energy, solid waste, air emissions, water usage, water emissions, and CO2eq. Aswell, each companies’ practices were considered for their environmental effects.2.1 ManufacturingThe Rubbermaid totes were made from low density polyethylene (LDPE) and the InterCratecrates were made from polypropylene (PP) (Rubbermaid, 2014; InterCrate, 2011). Each plasticwas found to have a different impact, as summarized below.2.1.1 Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)The process that was considered for manufacturing LDPE is shown in Figure 2.1 (FranklinAssociates, 2011). The plastic begins with the processing of crude oil and natural gas to makeethylene, a necessary component of LDPE. Then, a high pressure (300 MPa) and temperature (300◦C) process causes the ethylene coalesce into long random chains. These polymer chains (which arenow known as LDPE) are then extruded into pellets (Boustead, 2005a), which can then be heatedand formed into a large variety of plastic products.Crude Oil ProcessingNatural Gas ProcessingEthyleneManufactureLDPE ResinFigure 2.1: The LDPE manufacturing process (Franklin Associates, 2011).23Table 2.1: Environmental effects of LDPE manufacturing per kilogram produced (Boustead, 2005a;Franklin Associates, 2011)Environmental Indicator EffectEnergy 80.8 MJSolid Waste 61.3 gAir Emissions 1740 gWater Use 47200 gWater Emissions 11.0 gCO2eq 2460 gThe net environmental effects per kilogram of LDPE produced is summarized in Table 2.1(Franklin Associates, 2011; Boustead, 2005a). It takes into account the environmental effectsarising from a variety of processes in the manufacture: the energy sources (ie: electricity, naturalgas), the transportation of materials, the energies in the materials, and the actual manufacturingprocess.2.1.2 Polypropylene (PP)Crude Oil ProcessingNatural Gas ProcessingPropyleneManufacturePP ResinFigure 2.2: The PP manufacturing process (Franklin Associates, 2011).The PP manufacturing process considered was similar to LDPE, as shown in Figure 2.2 (FranklinAssociates, 2011). Crude oil and natural gas are processed to produce a material known as propy-lene, the base unit of PP (its ‘monomer’). Then, the propylene is used in a gas phase reactor(which passes gas at high speed through the polymer) to cause the monomers to chain togetherto form a polymer, polypropylene. This process uses lower temperatures and pressures than thecorresponding LDPE process.4Table 2.2: Environmental effects of PP manufacturing per kilogram produced (Boustead, 2005b;Franklin Associates, 2011)Environmental Indicator EffectEnergy 75.2 MJSolid Waste 57.2 gAir Emissions 1600 gWater Use 42600 gWater Emissions 10.0 gCO2eq 2140 gThe overall effect of this manufacturing, along with energy sources and transportation effects,is summarized in Table 2.2 (Boustead, 2005b; Franklin Associates, 2011). Notably, this plastic hadbetter environmental performance in all environmental effects considered, probably due to the lesstemperature and pressure intensive manufacturing process.2.2 Company Specifics2.2.1 RubbermaidRubbermaid had a variety of initiatives in place to minimize environmental impact and increasethe sustainability of their manufacturing processes. Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP) wasbased in Atlanta, Georgia and largely manufactured 80% of its products in the United States, withall of its U.S. locations having zero net emissions and acid rain production through their recyclingTable 2.3: Reduction in waste achieved by RCP practices (Rubbermaid, 2014)Substance DescriptionHeavy Metal Rubbermaid does not use any colorantscontaining heavy metalsWater Closed water loop, 12,000 gallons used andrecycled continuouslyHydraulic Oil 60,000 gallons recycled every yearWaste Plastic Collects and regrinds plastic scraps to beused, reduction of 98%5programs (Rubbermaid, 2014). As this fact was only claimed and no reports were available toconfirm with actual numbers, the basis of factoring in RCP’s practices with the manufacturingpart of the life-cycle (from Section 2.1) will be the actual numbers the company provides, suchas the recycling of water and plastics or the reduction of material use. Table 2.3 outlines thisinformation on various recycled or reduced materials and their effect from the baseline, current asof this report.Effects of Rubbermaid’s TransportationThe emissions resulting from the transportation of the totes used by the farm to a retailer inVancouver was estimated by looking at the emissions from RCP’s selected transportation meth-ods over the distance from the most likely export destination. Since 80% of RCP products weremanufactured in the United States and Rubbermaid’s base operation was in Atlanta, Georgia, anestimated route starting in Atlanta and ending in Vancouver was used to asses the impact of trans-portation (Rubbermaid, 2014). Rails routes were chosen when possible, since Rubbermaid preferstheir use for efficiency.A map of Canadian National rails terminals showed the closest city to Atlanta is Memphis,Tennessee at 616 km (Canadian National Railway Company, 2014). From there, the approximatepath of the train from Memphis to Vancouver was 4668 km. Table 2.4 shows the estimated emissionsfrom the route. Distance was estimated using Google Maps, which was combined with train fuelTable 2.4: Emissions from transporting 0.62 tons from Atlanta, Georgia to Vancouver, BCRoute Distance (km) Fuel Efficiency(tons·km/L)Fuel Consumed (L) Emissions (kg)Truck Transport(Atlanta, GA toMemphis, TN)616 79.2 5.06 13.36Train Transport(Memphis, TN toVancouver, BC)4668 182.81 16.60 43.82Totals 5254 N/A 21.66 57.186efficiencies (Tolliver, Lu, & Benson, 2013), a shipping weight per tote of 1.8 kg (K. Menzies,personal communication, March 21 2014), and CO2 emitted per litre of fuel burned (Ecoscore,2014) to calculate the total emissions of moving 350 totes (a shipment weight of 0.62 tons) fromAtlanta, Georgia to Vancouver, BC. Per tote, there were overall 163 g of CO2 emissions.2.2.2 InterCrateInterCrate was a local company, so their products essentially had no emissions resulting fromtransport from the company to a purchasing location for the farm. This elimination resulted in acut in the environmental costs of the product equivalent to what it took to transport totes fromRubbermaid’s main location in Atlanta, Georgia to Vancouver, BC.Apart from the reduction in transportation costs, use of InterCrate products provided somebenefits that were hard to quantify but are worth mentioning as they factored in to the benefitsof using them. First, InterCrate’s products were specifically designed to reduce water use whenwashing them, making them more environmentally friendly in the washing stage in comparison toRubbermaid totes. Also, they had ideal ventilation for the food products, requiring no modificationto create ventilation (unlike the totes, which had holes drilled into them for this purpose). Thesecrates also had folds in handles for superior ergonomics and were designed to reduce possible damageto goods when stacking for transporting. The design also made the crates take up significantly lessspace when stacking empty as opposed to full crates, therefore reducing the cost of returning themby possibly lowering the amount of trips needed to retrieve them.2.3 Farm UsageThe containers were used on the UBC farm for gathering produce, storing produce, and trans-porting produce to consumers (K. Menzies, personal communication, February 4, 2014). They werealso washed on a weekly basis. The impact of each of these processes is discussed below.Gathering and storing the produce has very little environmental effect, since this process was7done by human labour. As well, since the farm only picked up the reusable plastic containers whenthey were going back to a location to ship more produce, they were already doing the minimum tripspossible. Therefore, since this report is comparative, the environmental effects of transportationto consumers were ignored. So, only water usage was found to be important during the life cycle,and only that effect was considered.In order to asses the water usage of 150 totes and 52 crates, a proportionate sample of the totesand crates at UBC farm were washed. The total water consumption was recorded as 386.9 gallons(Millar, 2013). More detailed information about this data can be found in Appendix A. Since theaverage frequency of tote washing at the farm was once per week, the total water usage on averagefor each container was calculated as:386.9 gallons202 washings·52 washingsyear· 2.5 years = 250 gallons = 946000 g.This value was the only relevant environmental effect during use at the farm.2.4 DisposalTable 2.5: Environmental effects of recycling 1 kg of plastic by mechanical recycling, and incinera-tion of resultant waste products (Arena et al., 2003).Environmental Indicator EffectEnergy −1.88 MJSolid Waste 36.2 gAir Emissions 0.468 gWater Use 1276 gWater Emissions 0.055 gCO2eq 553 gAfter the 2-3 years of use, the plastic totes were recycled, generally due to breakage of handles orcracking of the walls (K. Menzies, personal communication, February 4, 2014). The most commontechnique of recycling plastics such as LDPE and PP was mechanical recycling, where the plastics8are ground, washed, dryed, and re-formed into resins by application of heat. Assuming that theCity of Vancouver’s recycling facilities employed this common technique, Table 2.5 shows the netenvironmental impacts that arise from recycling the average 1 kg of plastic (Arena et al., 2003).The negative energy in the table indicates that energy was recovered from the process instead ofbeing consumed.2.5 Totals2.5.1 LDPE Rubbermaid ToteTable 2.6: Net environmental effects of one Rubbermaid toteManufacturing Use Disposal TotalEnergy 106 MJ N/A −2.47 MJ 104 MJSolid Waste 80.6 g N/A 47.6 g 128 gAir Emissions 2230 g N/A 0.62 g 2230 gWater Use 30000 g 946000 g 1680 g 978000 gWater Emissions 14.4 g N/A 0.073 g 14.5 gCO2eq 3400 g N/A 730 g 4130 gThe total environmental impact found for a Rubbermaid tote is shown in Table 2.6. Themanufacturing values were calculated by scaling the raw manufacturing impacts of LDPE (Table2.1) by the mass of the totes in use at the farm, 1.3 kg (K. Menzies, personal communication, March21 2014) with the addition of the transport effects and RCP environmental practices (Table 2.3,which resulted in water use reduction). The disposal stage was calculated by a simple multiplicationof the recycling impact given in Table 2.5 by the mass of a tote.2.5.2 PP InterCrate ContainerThe total environmental impact of an InterCrate crate is tabulated in Table 2.7. The averageInterCrate container had a mass of 1.8 kg (InterCrate, 2011), and each environmental category wasweighted by this value. The assumption that these crates take about the same about of washing as9the totes was also made (since the washing data was for a representative sample of crates and totes),causing the use data to be the same as for the Rubbermaid totes. Since the exact environmentalpractices of InterCrate were unavailable, the manufacturing portion of this table has no reductionsin environmental impact due to company practices, unlike the previous Rubbermaid table.Table 2.7: Net environmental effects of one InterCrate CrateEnvironmental Indicator Manufacturing Use Disposal TotalEnergy 135 MJ N/A −3.39 MJ 132 MJSolid Waste 103 g N/A 65.1 g 169 gAir Emissions 2880 g N/A 0.842 g 2880 gWater Use 76700 g 946000 g 2300 g 1030000 gWater Emissions 18.3 g N/A 0.10 g 18.4 gCO2eq 3860 g N/A 1000 g 4860 gSection 3.0 AlternativesConsidered next were several alternatives to plastic containers: cardboard boxes, waxed linedcardboard boxes, wood boxes, and biodegradable plastic liners. Each option had their merits anddrawbacks placed on a qualitative scale, and the overall best choice was selected based on primarilyon practicality and broad environmental effects.3.1 Cardboard BoxesCardboard was found to be widely used around the shipping industry for many tasks, and in thefood industry for transportation of dry products, such as apples or bananas. Cardboard was cheap,readily available, strong for its weight and could also be custom ordered into many different shapesand sizes. Environmentally, the main advantage of this material was its ability to be recycled, andthat it was biodegradable when it eventually loses that ability. For the UBC farm, cardboard boxesalso entirely removed the necessity of intensive washing every week.However, cardboard had some critical drawbacks. Moisture from wet materials (such as producelike leafy greens) would cause warping and loss of structural integrity of the material (Verghese,Crossin, & Jollands, 2012). As well, it offered less protection from pests and wildlife than a plasticalternative.3.2 Wax-Lined CardboardWaxed cardboard was found to be widely used among large agricultural operations to ship largeamounts of produce. The material shared many characteristics with normal cardboard, with itsmain advantage over normal cardboard being water resistance (Verghese et al., 2012). Thereforeat the UBC farm the boxes would not lose stability when in contact with wet produce.Naturally, the wax lining added extra environmental effects from manufacturing relative to nor-mal cardboard. As well, the lining makes the material non-recyclable. However, waxed cardboardwas found to be compostable: the paraffin used in the wax was biodegradable (Clean Washington1011Center, 1993). So, waxed cardboard maybe was not as environmentally detrimental as it may haveseemed at the outset.3.3 WoodWooden crates were another possibility for replacing the plastic containers. The main advan-tages of wooden crates were the facts that they have good ventilation and could be manufacturedand repaired locally. As well, wood is a naturally occurring material, which reduces the negativeimpacts from production of the boxes greatly.However, there were some drawbacks. The hardness and inflexibility of wood may result inbruising of soft fruits and produce. As well, if not kept under good conditions (not sitting wetoutside), wood could easily become contaminated with fungi and bacteria, making a large foodsafety hazard (Lelieveld, Mostert, & Holah, 2005). Given the large amount of washing that occurredon the plastic crates, it would be very difficult for farm workers to keep the wood in good conditions(that is, dry). There were treated woods that prevent fungal growths, but this option was evenworse: the treatment chemicals were often biohazardous (Defra, 2012).3.4 Biodegradable LinersThe final option considered was biodegradable plastic liners around plain cardboard boxes.These liners remove the problem that wax lined cardboard has, that it cannot be recycled and hasa short lifespan. Therefore, they could have come out better for the environment than the waxlined cardboard boxes.On the other side, these liners were more expensive. As well, the main issue with these linerswas the lack of ventilation they provide. This issue was alleviated in the plastic containers withholes drilled into the sides (K. Menzies, personal communication, February 4, 2014). However, thissolution was clearly not an option for plastic bags due to stability issues: they would simply tearapart if holes were cut into them. As well, the plastic bags would be probably not be in a size12convenient for the cardboard boxes, causing wasted material and inconvenience while placing theliner (BioBag Canada, 2007).3.5 Overall Comparison of AlternativesEnvironmentally speaking, the wooden crates offered the least impact, due to re-usability andnaturally sourced materials. The cardboard option, waxed lined or not, required much more fre-quent disposal (and hence waste) and the biodegradable liners were still plastic based, possiblycausing detrimental environmental effects in production. As well, the plastic liners would probablyend up being frequently disposed of as well due to their fragile nature.However, from the practical viewpoint of the farm wooden crates were perhaps the worst op-tion, with food safety issues due to possible fungal contamination. Thus, they were eliminatedas an option. As well, the biodegradable liners did not provide sufficient ventilation for storingagricultural goods, and thus were also not suitable for use.These eliminations left raw cardboard and waxed cardboard as the only remaining options. Theraw cardboard seemed the most appealing, however, due to structural stability loss when in contactwith wet materials such as freshly washed produce, it was not suitable. The remaining option thatprovided the most general solution was wax-lined cardboard. Thus, wax-lined cardboard is thefocus of the assessment in the next section.Section 4.0 Waxed Cardboard Box Life CycleNormal corrugated cardboard boxes were found as sturdy and strong containers for their mass.As shown in Figure 4.1, they consist of a few layers of paper material held together by glue. Thetop and bottom layers are for stability and flexural strength, and the middle ‘fluting’ layer providescompressive strength, support, and stiffness at low density. The fluting also makes for good thermalinsulation (Verghese et al., 2012).Figure 4.1: A cross section of corrugated cardboard (FEFCO, 2012).The waxed cardboard boxes under study consisted of corrugated cardboard walls, along withparaffin wax impregnated into the wall liners to improve resistance to moisture and oils (Vergheseet al., 2012). The next sections will summarize the manufacture, usage, and disposal of waxedcardboard boxes as they would be used on the UBC farm.4.1 ManufactureFirst, in order to make cardboard, paper must be manufactured. The manufacturing processthat was considered is shown in Figure 4.2. The paper began with the harvesting of trees or bycollection recycled paper products. The wood is chipped and is then cooked with water along withrecycled products and other chemicals to a pulp at temperatures of around 160 ◦C (FEFCO, 2012).This pulp is then filtered and refined, removing large fibers, any remaining chips, inks, wax etc.Raw Materials:Wood,recycled paperPulping, filtering, refiningPaper productionFigure 4.2: The major stages of producing paper (FEFCO, 2012).1314Then, the pulp is moved to the paper mill, where it is formed and dewatered by gravity and suctionaction. The material, now formed into a long sheet, moves onto a series of rollers and heaters forfurther drying and thickness management. At the end, it is cut and rolled into large reels and sold.To make waxed cardboard boxes, the paper for the fluting is steam heated and corrugated(folded into a wavy pattern). Glue is applied to both sides of the fluting, and the outer liners,infused with the paraffin wax, are placed. This raw cardboard is then cut and folded into thedesired box shape (Verghese et al., 2012; FEFCO, 2012).The net environmental impacts of this process for the production of 1 kg of cardboard can befound in Table 4.1. This data does not take into account waxing of the cardboard since that datawas unavailable. In fact, the waxing data was not needed, which is justified in Section 5.0.Table 4.1: Environmental effects of producing 1 kg of cardboard (FEFCO, 2012).Environmental Indicator EffectEnergy 8 MJSolid Waste 71.84 gAir Emissions 850 gWater Use 1700 gWater Emissions 4.33 gCO2eq 849 g4.2 Farm UsageIf implemented, the UBC farm would use waxed cardboard boxes in place of the current plasticcrates and totes. In particular, they would harvest the produce into them, store the produce inthem, and ship the produce out to consumers (such as restaurants). They also would not becollected again once shipped. This lack of recollection would not cut down on the net emissions incomparison to the plastic containers however, since the plastic ones were only recollected when thefarm has new produce to ship to a consumer. Since these boxes would not be washed, they have nofurther environmental effect while in use (K. Menzies, personal communication, February 4, 2014).15Since the plastic totes were washed about once every week, the cardboard containers shouldhave a similar lifetime before becoming unfit for food usage. Therefore, their expected lifetimewhile at the farm was estimated for this report as one week.4.3 DisposalWaxed cardboard, while not recyclable, was found to be compostable – the paraffin in the linerdoes decompose (Clean Washington Center, 1993). As such, if the farm was to use this option, theyessentially produce no further environmental effects after use: any solid waste will biodegrade. Infact, disposal as composting may slightly help the environment, since the cardboard can be usedto control certain parameters like moisture content in the compost. However, this effect was notparticularly measurable and was small, and so was disregarded for the environmental impact ofthese boxes.4.4 TotalsInterestingly, the environmental effects for waxed cardboard as it would be used on the UBCfarm came solely from manufacturing. The mass of the boxes generally used for produce aver-aged around 500 g (FEFCO, 2012). Therefore, the environmental effects overall for one box wascalculated by multiplying all the values in Table 4.1 by 0.5 kg per box. Table 4.2 shows the result.Table 4.2: Environmental effects of one cardboard boxEnvironmental Indicator EffectEnergy Use 4 MJSolid Waste 35.92 gAir Emissions 425 gWater Use 850 gWater Emissions 2.17 gCO2eq 425 gSection 5.0 Comparative AssessmentIn order to compare the cardboard and plastic totes, the impact of removing one plastic toteand using the equivalent number of cardboard boxes over the same lifespan was considered. Thecardboard box lifespan was estimated as 1 week in Section 4.2, and the plastic container lifespanwas given as 2.5 years (K. Menzies, personal communication, February 4, 2014). Therefore, thenumber of cardboard boxes that would be used in place of a plastic tote is around 52 × 2.5 = 130boxes.Therefore, the multiplication of the overall impact of one cardboard box (as given in Table 4.2)by 130 gave a meaningful comparison to the results of the plastic crates (given in Tables 2.7 and2.6). The results are shown in Table 5.1, and are graphed in Figure 5.1.Table 5.1: Overall comparison of cardboard boxes to plastic containersEnvironmental Indicator Cardboard Box Rubbermaid Tote InterCrate CrateEnergy Use 520 MJ 104 MJ 132 MJSolid Waste 4670 g 128 g 169 gAir Emissions 55300 g 2230 g 2880 gWater Use 111000 g 978000 g 1030000 gWater Emissions 281 g 14.5 g 18.4 gCO2eq 55185 g 4130 g 4860 gFigure 5.1 clearly shows that in nearly all areas plastic containers are far better than cardboardboxes. In these areas plastic was found to outperform cardboard on average by a factor of 15. Thisresult led to the conclusion that in order to even begin to compete with plastic, the farm would haveto extend the lifetime of a cardboard box to 15 weeks, or 3.75 months, which seems very unlikely.As well, this result justifies the previous omission of the effects of wax lining: adding those effectson would only add even more negative environmental impacts to the cardboard, while it is alreadyclear that cardboard is the worse option.However, there was a very notable exception where the cardboard outperforms the plastic: waterusage. This result was reasonable, since the totes are washed on about the same frequency as thecardboard lifetime, while using much more water each wash than making a cardboard box (about16170100200300400500600Cardboard Rubbermaid InterCrateEnergy(MJ)Energy00.511.522.533.544.55Cardboard Rubbermaid InterCrateSolidWaste(kg)Solid Waste0102030405060Cardboard Rubbermaid InterCrateAirEmissions(kg)Air Emissions020040060080010001200Cardboard Rubbermaid InterCrateWaterUse(kg)Water Use050100150200250300Cardboard Rubbermaid InterCrateWaterEmissions(g)Water Emissions0102030405060Cardboard Rubbermaid InterCrateCO2eq(kg)CO2eqFigure 5.1: A visual comparison of the impact of replacing one plastic crate with an equivalentnumber of cardboard boxes187 kg per wash, vs 850 g for box manufacture). Still, water is generally plentiful in Vancouver, andwhen taken in comparison to all the other negative environmental effects of cardboard, it was foundthat plastic was overall the better choice over cardboard.Within the plastic choices, Rubbermaid had a slight advantage in every area. This resulthowever was slightly deceiving: the PP used by InterCrate was actually a bit better to manufactureenvironmentally, but the InterCrate crates that were in use weigh more on average. Therefore, itwould instead be better to choose lighter containers from InterCrate than from Rubbermaid werepossible.19Section 6.0 Conclusion and RecommendationsThrough extensive environmental analysis, the conclusion that was found was that the currentmethod of plastic containers was the most viable option for harvesting, storing and transportingproduce from the UBC farm. Although the wax lined cardboard boxes provided the strongestalternative, the environmental effects did not surpass those of the plastic totes and crates: plasticcontainers outperformed cardboard in nearly all areas by a factor of 15.As well, the PP used in the InterCrate crates produced lower cumulative waste compared tothe LDPE Rubbermaid tote and had little to no transportation because it was purchased locally.However, since the InterCrate crates were heavier, they had more impacts. This edge was slight,so overall crates should be purchased for minimum mass where possible.Overall, the main recommendation found was for the UBC farm to continue its use of plastictotes and crates for produce transportation, handling, and storage. For optimal results, the con-tainers should be as light as possible and should be manufactured, purchased and recycled in thesame geographical area to reduce transportation effects.ReferencesArena, U., Mastellone, M. L., & Perugini, F. (2003). Life cycle assessment of a plastic packagingrecycling system. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assesment , 8 (2), 92-98.BioBag Canada. (2007). Commercial and industrial products. Retrived fromhttp://www.biobag.ca/pr industrial.html.Boustead, I. (2005a). Eco-profiles of the european plastics industry, low density polyethylene(Tech. Rep.). Nieuwenhuyse, Brussels, Belgium: PlasticsEurope.Boustead, I. (2005b). Eco-profiles of the european plastics industry, polypropylene (Tech. Rep.).Nieuwenhuyse, Brussels, Belgium: PlasticsEurope.Canadian National Railway Company. (2014). CN network maps. Retrived fromhttps://www.cn.ca/en/our-business/our-network/maps.Clean Washington Center. (1993). Composting produce waste and wax coated cardboard: Pilotstudy results using a low technology approach. Retrived fromhttp://www.cwc.org/organics/org935fs.pdf.Defra. (2012). Wood waste: A short review of recent research. Retrived fromhttps://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment data/file/82571/consult-wood-waste-researchreview-20120731.pdf.Ecoscore. (2014). How to calculate the CO2 emission level from the fuel consumption. Retrivedfromhttp://www.ecoscore.be/en/how-calculate-co2-emission-level-fuel-consumption.FEFCO. (2012). European database for corrugated board life cycle studies (Tech. Rep.). Brussels,Belgium: Cepi ContainerBoard.Franklin Associates. (2011). Cradle-to-gate life cycle inventory of nine plastic resins and fourpolyurethane precursors (Tech. Rep.). Prairie Village, Kansas: The American ChemistryCouncil.InterCrate. (2011). Intercrate quick reference chart. Retrived from http://www.intercratecontainer.com/SpecSheets/110817 Intercrate Quick Reference.pdf.2021Lelieveld, H., Mostert, T., & Holah, J. (2005). Handbook of hygiene control in the food industry.Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.Menzies, K. (2014a, February 4). Interview.Menzies, K. (2014b, March 21). Interview.Millar, M. (2013, December). Tote washing water consumption and labour time estimate (Tech.Rep.). UBC: UBC Farm.Rubbermaid. (2014). Rubbermaid commercial products sustainability mission. Retrived fromhttp://www.rubbermaidcommercial.com/rcp/green/index.jsp.Tolliver, D., Lu, P., & Benson, D. (2013, October). Comparing rail fuel efficiency with truck andwaterway. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment , 24 , 69-75.Verghese, K., Crossin, E., & Jollands, M. (2012). Packaging for sustainability. London, NewYork: Springer.Appendix A Washing Data from the UBC FarmThe following data is a summary of the water usage and labour time when used for washing totes,provided by the UBC farm (Millar, 2013). The data was collected by UBC Farm Field ResearchAssistant Michael Millar on December 16, 2013, who washed a number of crates, totes, and lidswhile recording the time taken and water consumption with a DLJ water meter. The results aresummarized in Table A.1.Table A.1: Water usage and time spent washing at the UBC FarmCrates and Totes LidsNumber 202 10Gallons Used 247.7 6.9Time (hrs) 4.93 0.13Minutes per wash 1.47 0.8Gallons/min 0.84 1.16Extrapolation to 150 lids would lead to 139.2 gallons used over 120 minutes for washing lids.Overall, the total time and water usage for 52 crates, 150 totes, and 150 lids was 406 minutes and386.9 gallons.There was also additional labour in the following areas, totaling 50 minutes:• Moving tables• Moving stacks together• Organizing tote/crate sizes• Clearing space to work• Peeling tape• Taking down and moving stacks• Taking down and moving tablesOverall, the total labour time was 456 minutes.22

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