Minnesota is the nation’s largest producer of sweet corn, the sixth most consumed vegetable in the United States and the third most popular side dish at dinner. Due to its significance within the food chain, it is important to understand the environmental impact of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with its life cycle. Many large food manufacturing companies and retailers such as Del Monte, General Mills, and Target have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10-20%. The goal of this study is to quantify the greenhouse gas emissions for canned and frozen sweet corn in Minnesota starting with sweet corn cultivation and ending with consumer use. To assess the greenhouse gas emissions at each stage of the life cycle, the GREET model from the Argonne National Laboratory is modified. The show that canned sweet corn emits from 1.7 to 2.6 kg of CO2e with an average of 1.9 kg per 1 kg of processed sweet corn. Frozen sweet corn emits from 0.8 to 2.7 kg of CO2e with an average of 1.6 kg per 1 kg of processed sweet corn. The processing stage for canned sweet corn, specifically the packaging, contributes 0.8 kg of CO2e per 1 kg of processed sweet corn. Consumer storage for frozen sweet corn contributes up to 1 kg of CO2e per 1 kg of processed sweet corn. The main contributors of greenhouse gas emissions for both canned and frozen sweet corn are transportation, energy use at the processing facility and consumer storage. Further investigation of these three stages is warranted given their importance in the life cycle and the large variability and uncertainty they present.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. April 2017. Major: Bioproducts/Biosystems Science Engineering and Management. Advisor: Jason Hill. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 56 pages.
Cradle to Consumer Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Accounting of Sweet Corn in Minnesota.
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