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  • 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


    
 
 
 THE
BANANA
CARBON
 FOOTPRINT
CASE
STUDY
 
 BY
ANTHONY
J.
CRAIG
AND
DR.
EDGAR
E.
BLANCO

 MIT
CENTER
FOR
TRANSPORTATION
&
LOGISTICS
 SEPTEMBER,
2009
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


    HTTP://CTL.MIT.EDU/RESEARCH


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    1


    
 


    THE
BANANA
CARBON
FOOTPRINT
CASE
STUDY
 
 BY
ANTHONY
J.
CRAIG
AND
DR.
EDGAR
E.
BLANCO

 MIT
CENTER
FOR
TRANSPORTATION
&
LOGISTICS,
CAMBRIDGE
MA,
USA
 
 SUMMARY:
This
document
describes
in
detail
the
process
of
estimating
the
carbon
footprint
of
a
 banana.
The
case
study
estimated
a
total
footprint
of
121g
of
CO2­equivalents,
with
transportation
and
 farming
being
the
largest
share
of
emissions
(36%
and
29%
respectively).
A
description
of
the
breadth,
 depth
and
precision
of
the
estimation
is
included
in
the
document,
as
well
as
an
illustrative
assessment
 on
the
level
of
uncertainty
of
the
carbon
footprint
calculation.


    Introduction


    This
case
study
involves
the
cooperation
of
 Chiquita
Brands
International
(CBI),
a
leading
 international
distributor
of
fruits,
and
Shaw’s,
 a
New
England
based
grocery
store
chain,
to
 measure
the
carbon
footprint
of
bananas.

 The
initial
phase
of
this
research
has
involved
 interviews
with
key
personnel,
mapping
of
 the
supply
chain,
visits
to
a
distribution
 center
and
retail
store,
and
collection
of
 relevant
data.

Working
with
the
partner
 companies
the
activities
associated
with
the
 supply
chain
were
examined
for
any
 greenhouse
gas
emissions
that
might
be
 produced
(measured
in
CO2
equivalents
or
 CO2e).

For
each
emissions
generating
activity
 data
was
collected
regarding
the
amount
of
 emissions
generated
and
the
quantity
of
 bananas
involved
in
the
activity.

In
this
 manner
the
emissions
can
be
allocated
to
the
 product
in
order
to
determine
the
carbon
 footprint
of
a
pound
of
bananas
sold
at
a
 retail
outlet.

For
data
that
is
not
available
 from
the
partner
companies
estimates
have
 been
made
from
secondary
data
sources.

The
 current
work
has
focused
on
materials
that
 are
consumed
and
used
during
the
handling
 process,
and
capital
goods
have
been
 excluded.






    The
Banana
Supply
Chain


    Bananas
sold
in
the
United
States
are
 typically
grown
in
Central
America.

CBI
 works
with
a
network
of
owned
plantations,
 independent
growers,
and
wholesalers
at
 more
than
200
locations,
primarily
in
 Guatemala,
Nicaragua,
and
Costa
Rica.

 Though
practices
may
vary
from
farm
to
farm
 banana
cultivation
often
involves
the
 application
of
fertilizers,
pesticides,
and
 fungicides.

Once
the
bananas
approach
 ripeness
they
are
picked
at
the
plantation
and
 packaged
for
transportation.

The
bananas
 are
shipped
from
the
packing
locations
by
 truck
in
refrigerated
containers
to
one
of
 three
outbound
ports.

Once
they
arrive
at
 port
the
bananas
remain
in
the
refrigerated
 containers
and
are
loaded
on
ocean
vessels
 for
shipment
to
one
of
five
ports
in
the
US.
 
 After
arriving
in
the
US
the
containers
are
 unloaded
from
the
ship
and
the
bananas
are
 moved
from
the
containers
to
refrigerated
 warehouses
located
near
the
port.

From
the
 warehouse
bananas
are
shipped
either
to
CBI
 distribution
centers
or
taken
to
customers
 DCs.

This
transportation
can
be
arranged
by
 CBI
or
by
the
customer.

Upon
reaching
the
 DC
the
bananas
undergo
a
chemical
ripening
 process
using
ethylene
gas
that
lasts
3‐4
days.

 At
the
end
of
this
process
the
bananas
are


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    2


    ready
for
sale
and
are
immediately
shipped
to
 retail
outlets.

At
the
retail
outlet
bananas
 require
no
special
handling
or
care
such
as
 refrigeration.

Bananas
are
a
fast
moving
 product,
with
most
bananas
typically
being
 sold
within
a
day
of
arriving
at
the
store.

 
 In
addition
to
the
bananas
themselves
a
 number
of
additional
materials
are
used
to
 package
the
bananas
for
transport
and
sale.

 From
the
packing
station
to
the
DC
bananas
 are
normally
shipped
in
container
quantities.

 Each
container
holds
20
pallets
of
48
banana
 boxes,
for
a
total
of
960
boxes
per
container.

 Each
box
contains
approximately
40
pounds
 (18
kgs)
of
bananas
wrapped
in
a
plastic
liner
 and
placed
in
a
cardboard
banana
box.

The
 banana
boxes
and
liners
are
procured
by
CBI
 and
sent
from
the
US
to
Central
America
 during
the
backhaul
portion
of
the
ocean
 voyage.

The
materials
are
sent
to
the
packing
 stations
in
the
trucks
that
will
be
used
to
 transport
the
bananas
from
the
packing
 station
to
the
port.

Additional
packing
 materials
include
reusable
wooden
pallets,
 cardboard
pieces
used
to
help
secure
boxes
of
 bananas
on
pallets,
and
plastic
shrink
wrap
 used
when
transporting
pallets
of
bananas
 from
the
DC
to
the
store.

Though
Chiquita
 supplies
the
cardboard
and
plastic
used
in
 packing
bananas
these
materials
are
 eventually
disposed
of
by
retailers
who
 purchase
bananas
from
CBI.

At
Shaw’s
 grocery
stores
the
cardboard
used
in
packing
 is
saved
and
sent
to
a
recycler,
while
the


    plastic
lining
and
shrink
wrap
are
thrown
out
 as
waste.
 
 Beyond
the
bananas
and
the
packaging
 materials
the
only
other
product
consumed
 during
the
banana
supply
chain
is
the
 ethylene
fluid
used
in
the
ripening
process.

 This
fluid
is
purchased
from
the
producer
and
 shipped
to
the
DC
through
a
parcel
delivery
 service.

The
fluid
is
packaged
inside
a
plastic
 bottle.

One
32
oz.
bottle
of
ethylene
fluid
is
 used
to
ripen
one
truckload
of
bananas.

After
 use
in
the
ripening
process
the
empty
bottles
 are
discarded
as
waste.
A
map
of
the
supply
 chain
is
shown
in
Figure
1.



    Emissions
and
Data
Sources


    The
emissions
considered
in
this
analysis
can
 generally
be
placed
in
one
of
three
categories:
 emissions
from
mobile
combustion,
 emissions
from
energy
use
and
electricity
 consumed
in
facilities,
and
emissions
related
 to
production
and
disposal
of
materials
used
 throughout
the
supply
chain.

The
materials
 include
not
only
packaging
materials
such
as
 cardboard
and
plastic,
but
also
emissions
 related
to
the
chemicals
used
in
the
growing
 of
bananas
and
production
of
ethylene
fluid.

 In
theory
each
of
these
materials
can
 themselves
be
traced
back
through
the
supply
 chain
to
quantify
their
emissions,
however,
 this
requires
information
not
available
to
the
 partner
companies.

In
this
case
these
 emissions
can
be
quantified
using
available
 Life‐cycle
Assessment
(LCA)
data.
 


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    3


    
 Figure
1.

Banana
Supply
Chain
Map


    Mobile
Combustion
 The
primary
emissions
contributions
for
 mobile
combustion
come
from
ground
 transportation
of
the
bananas
by
truck
and
 ocean
transportation
of
the
bananas
from
 Central
America
to
the
U.S.

Secondary
 contributions
include
ocean
transportation
of
 cardboard
boxes
from
the
U.S.
to
Central
 America,
ground
transportation
of
ethylene
 fluid
and
packing
materials
to
the
DC,
and
 transportation
of
chemicals
to
the
banana
 farms.


    Ground
Transportation


    Ground
transportation
of
the
bananas
 includes
shipping
from
the
grower
to
the
 outbound
Central
American
port;
inbound
 from
the
U.S.
port
to
the
DC;
and
outbound
 from
the
DC
to
the
retail
store.

Shipping
 distance
from
the
grower
to
port
can
vary
 based
on
where
the
grower
is
located
and
 which
shipping