Novel integrated agricultural land management approach provides sustainable biomass feedstocks for bioplastics and supports the UK’s “net-zero” target

Yuanzhi Ni, Goetz Richter, Onesmus N. Mwabonje, Aiming Qi, Martin K. Patel, Jeremy Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

We investigate the potential in producing biodegradable bio-plastics to support the emergent 'net-zero' greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets in the UK. A 'cradle to grave' life cycle assessment was developed to evaluate GHG mitigation potentials of bio-based polybutylene succinate plastics produced from wheat straw-only (single feedstock) or wheat straw plus Miscanthus (mixed feedstocks) agricultural supply systems. For scenarios using mixed feedstocks, significant carbon mitigation potentials were identified at catchment and national levels (emission reduction of 30 kg CO2eq kg-1 plastic compared to petroleum-based alternatives), making the system studied a significant net carbon sink at marginal GHG abatement costs of 0.5-14.9 t-1 CO2eq. We show that an effective 'net-zero' transition of the UK's agricultural sector needs spatially explicit, diversified and integrated cropping strategies. Such integration of perennial bio-materials into food production systems can unlock cost-effective terrestrial carbon sequestration. Research & Development and scale-up will lower costs helping deliver a sustainable bioeconomy and transition to 'net-zero'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number014023
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume16
Issue number1
Early online date1 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • bio-economy
  • bio-plastics
  • carbon abatement cost
  • perennial crops
  • terrestrial carbon stock

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