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Bio-based production systems: Why environmental assessment needs to include supporting systems
RISE - Research Institutes of Sweden, Bioscience and Materials, Agrifood and Bioscience. SLU Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden.
RISE - Research Institutes of Sweden, Built Environment, Energy and Circular Economy.
SLU Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden.
SLU Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden.
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2019 (English)In: Sustainability, ISSN 2071-1050, E-ISSN 2071-1050, Vol. 11, no 17, article id 4678Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The transition to a bio-based economy is expected to deliver substantial environmental and economic benefits. However, bio-based production systems still come with significant environmental challenges, and there is a need for assessment methods that are adapted for the specific characteristics of these systems. In this review, we investigated how the environmental aspects of bio-based production systems differ from those of non-renewable systems, what requirements these differences impose when assessing their sustainability, and to what extent mainstream assessment methods fulfil these requirements. One unique characteristic of bio-based production is the need to maintain the regenerative capacity of the system. The necessary conditions for maintaining regenerative capacity are often provided through direct or indirect interactions between the production system and surrounding "supporting" systems. Thus, in the environmental assessment, impact categories affected in both the primary production system and the supporting systems need to be included, and impact models tailored to the specific context of the study should be used. Development in this direction requires efforts to broaden the system boundaries of conventional environmental assessments, to increase the level of spatial and temporal differentiation, and to improve our understanding of how local uniqueness and temporal dynamics affect the performance of the investigated system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
MDPI AG , 2019. Vol. 11, no 17, article id 4678
Keywords [en]
Bio-based economy, Bio-based production systems, Bioeconomy, Environmental assessment, Environmental management, LCA, Sustainability assessment, Systems analysis
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ri:diva-39918DOI: 10.3390/su11174678Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85071980402OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ri-39918DiVA, id: diva2:1355396
Note

Funding text 1: This research received no external funding. We would like to acknowledge Liisa Fransson from RISE Research Institutes of Sweden for providing valuable input and supervision throughout the review and writing process

Available from: 2019-09-27 Created: 2019-09-27 Last updated: 2019-09-27Bibliographically approved

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