Life Cycle Assessment of Hemp Biomass Fields for Commercial Cannabidiol Resin Produced in Uruguay
Silva, Juan (2021)
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A life cycle assessment (LCA) for hemp biomass with data supplied by a Uruguayan company “Innovaterra Ltd.” was conducted in this study. The LCA analyses only the agricultural phase and not the industrial production of the resin. Therefore, the system boundary utilized is “cradle-to-gate”. The functional unit is kgs fibre/hectare, with the time constrain from the vegetative to the flowering phase until the harvest of the plant (approximately seven months). The aim of the thesis is to discover how much greenhouse gasses (GHG) will be produced in one hectare of hemp biomass field and to reveal the environmental impacts. GaBi LCA software is utilized for the computation of the LCA. This LCA was conducted through following the ISO standards 14040-140440 The inputs and outputs for creating the scenarios, plan, and processes of the LCA are based on literature review and data provided by Innovaterra Ltd. A negative result from the CO2 total emission was achieved, with a value of – 2.8 tons of CO2 equivalent. This is due to the higher CO2 sequestration that one hectare of hemp produces a year with the sowing density and fields design with grass corridors. Additionally, the irrigation system is powered by hydroelectric power. The irrigation utilizes fresh water from a lake located in the vicinity. Also, in the results of the LCA, the hotspots are identified. A total amount of 1.3 tons of CO2 equivalent were produced by the production of plastic utilized for the mulch. This is since a large amount of plastic is utilized for one hectare. The mulch plastic is made of polyethylene (PE), which requires crude oil for its production. However, currently, there is biodegradable mulch plastic that is already utilized by other agricultural farmers. Even though the hot spots have high GHG emissions, the total global warming potential (GWP) is negative. Also, Innovaterra Ltd. recycles its mulch plastic every year, but this was not included in this study.