Biodiversity Impact Assessment of Conventional and Organic Cotton A Comparison Using Three Different Biodiversity Quantification Models in LCA

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master's Thesis
Industrial ecology (MPTSE), MSc
Dellås, Stina
Anthropogenic activities have led to a decline of nature’s ecosystems and biodiversity. The textile industry has contributed to this, especially through conventional cotton fiber production. Acknowledging humans’ impact on biodiversity and the industries contributing, there is a need for established models to quantify biodiversity impacts to enhance transparency in the supply chain for mitigation and responsible consumption, aligning with global efforts for biodiversity conservation. This study aimed to examine the cotton cultivation process and its impacts on biodiversity. This was done through a life cycle assessment (LCA) that compared conventional and organic cotton cultivation in Turkey. Additionally, three different impact assessment methods were used and compared to establish aspects of the models important to capture biodiversity loss and how the models can be developed. The models were ReCiPe2016, a widely applied model that covers multiple impacts and biodiversity damage pathways, and two models measuring biodiversity land use impacts, Chaudhary & Brooks (C&B) that factors in levels of land use intensity, and the Habitat Fragmentation model (HF) that includes impacts from fragmentation. The results show that the cumulative impact assessed by ReCiPe2016 revealed a greater environmental impact for conventional cotton. Land use significantly affects both systems, with organic cotton showing a larger impact. The conventional cotton production showed a higher impact from toxicity, climate change, and water use, highlighting concerns about fertilization production, use, and irrigation. Despite land use intensity considerations in C&B, the yield difference remains a crucial factor. The study suggests the need for additional models considering ecosystem multifunctionality to address biodiversity impacts between organic and conventional agriculture. Following the results from the HF model, it is proposed to examine fragmentation effects as an attribute of land use intensity. Integrating models like C&B and HF into operational models is crucial for industry and research, promoting responsible and sustainable practices to ensure comprehensive biodiversity impact coverage in life cycle assessments.
Life Cycle Assessment , cotton cultivation , biodiversity , methods of impact assessment
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