UBC Undergraduate Research

Exploring greenhouse gas emission factors for UBC produce Mweetwa, Thandiwe; Sra, Marena; Haimonot, Sarah; Hilmer, Erik; Lidell, Noah


As part of Land and Food Systems (LFS) 450 community based food system project, we carried out research to estimate the amount of GHG emissions associated with produce purchased by UBC Food Services. Through consultations with the LFS 450 teaching team, Victoria Wakefield from UBC Food Services and Lillian Zaremba from the Sustainability office, we chose potatoes, tomatoes and apples as a focus for our project. We decided to investigate the emissions produced from production, processing, packaging and transportation. We reviewed literature from interdisciplinary studies in order to obtain emission factors. We also used to these articles to calculate the estimated GHG emissions from each product. The summary velocity report provided by the teaching team was useful for indicating the amounts of potato, tomato and apple products purchased by UBC Food Services. From our literature review, we determined there are many gaps in information with reference to GHG emissions caused by growing produce in Canada. Therefore, we used emission factors from different parts of the world to establish CO₂ emissions. Emissions factors for unprocessed tomatoes, potatoes, and apples are 0.771 kgCO₂/kg, 0.044 kgCO₂/kg, and 0.080 kgCO₂/kg respectively. Fries, a processed potato product, consumed at UBC in 2011 contributed a total of 297.7 kg of CO₂ whereas the whole potatoes purchased by UBC Food Services were associated with 0.121 kg of CO₂ emission. Carbon emissions for processed tomato products purchased by UBC Food Services during 2011 are 2264 kg CO₂ emitted for tomato juice, 8346.0 kg CO₂ emitted for diced tomatoes, 7955 kg CO₂ emitted for tomato paste, and 1933 kg CO₂ emitted for ketchup. The overall aim of collecting this data is to create recommendations for the stakeholders to lower the GHG emission caused by these produce items. We also recommend that the teaching team designs projects that will focus on identifying the most sustainable sources of popular produce items using other indicators in addition to distance from UBC. 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.”

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