Sustainable Practices for Minimizing Broccoli Waste and Carbon Footprint at Household Level

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Poster Number:  V-07 

Main Presenter:    Laura Rasines 

Co-Authors:   Noelia Castillejo     Guillermo San Miguel      Encarna Aguayo                                    

Background and aims: Significant amounts of waste occurs during the consumption stage, particularly with fresh fruits and vegetables. This research aims to evaluate the optimal storage scenario to reduce broccoli waste at the household level. Methodology: The present study involves an experiment and carbon footprint assessment of four storage conditions for fresh broccoli heads purchased from a local supermarket. The broccoli heads were stored in a domestic refrigerator at 5 °C or 7 °C for 16 days, either unbagged or bagged in bioplastic bags that were periodically opened. The carbon footprint was calculated using life cycle assessment, with a functional unit (FU) of 1 kg of broccoli for consumer use (from cradle to grave). The study determined sensorial properties, weight loss, and bioactive compounds. Waste ratios at household level for each storage scenario were obtained through visual evaluation. Results and discussion: On day 0, when the broccoli was not stored in consumer’s
refrigerator and no food waste was generated, the carbon footprint was 0.81 kg CO2eq/FU. The main contributor of these emissions was agricultural production, due to the production and release of chemical fertilisers, as well as the electricity demand for water pumping. Within first 3 days, there was no broccoli waste and therefore, the unbagged broccoli stored at 7 °C had the lowest carbon footprint since its lower energy demand for broccoli cooling and avoidance of bioplastic bag production. However, this storage scenario obtained the highest carbon footprint throughout the study due to higher food waste ratios, resulting in a waste of resources used to produce the broccoli that was thrown away. Although bagged broccoli stored at 5 °C initially had the highest emissions, the lower temperature reduced broccoli senescence and the bag helped to maintain broccoli quality for a longer period due to the retention of relative humidity. Therefore, the environmental impact of this scenario was
the lowest, starting from 6 days onwards, due to the reduced amount of wasted broccoli. For example, on16 day, it was possible to save 4.63 kg/FU of broccoli and 3.16 kg CO2 eq/FU although it resulted in lower vitamin C and sulforaphane broccoli content. Conclusions: To prevent food waste at the household level and minimise environmental impact, we encourage consumers to store bagged broccoli at 5 °C if it will be stored for more than 6 days. Acknowledgements: Region of Murcia through the Seneca Foundation – Agency for Science and Technology in the Region of Murcia, and European programme NextGenerationEU.

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