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From Food to Fuel: The Swedish Resource Efficiency Dilemma.
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Sustainable development, Environmental science and Engineering, Land and Water Resources Engineering.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The EU has embarked on a resource efficiency trajectory in order to solve resource scarcity and general sustainability issues. The conversion of food waste into fuel is considered resource efficient as it makes use of resources that would otherwise be discarded. On the other hand, the food sector affects the environment substantially as it is inherently resource intensive and excessive. The purpose of the study was to assess how resource efficient the food waste substrate (feedstock for energy production) is from a life-cycle perspective. The study also aimed to determine if associated Swedish incentives and current market signals promote resource efficiency in Sweden. The food waste substrate has a complex life-cycle and current analyses neglect crucial life-cycle impacts. This makes resource efficiency difficult to determine in absolute terms. The first resource efficiency principle, that promotes the use of fewer inputs, becomes questionable as the food waste substrate has twice as many input stages in comparison to the food crop substrate. The second principle, stating that the food waste substrate should contribute to a low-carbon economy, also falls short due to a calculation method that neglects crucial emission stages. Due to the absent life-cycle perspective, crucial environmental impacts associated with food production are neglected. This affects the achievement of the Swedish Generation Goal and environmental quality objectives. The study concludes that the food waste substrate should undergo a thorough life-cycle analysis. Furthermore, it should be compared to other biofuel options in order to determine degree of resource efficiency. Only then can an appropriate set of EU and national policy measures be instated to safeguard scarce resources and promote a sustainable agriculture and energy sector.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
, TRITA-LWR Degree Project, ISSN 1651-064X ; 2014:07
Keyword [en]
Resource efficiency; Food waste-to-energy; Biofuel; Food surplus production; Waste management; Policy measures
National Category
Civil Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-171787OAI: diva2:844511
Educational program
Degree of Master - Environmental Engineering and Sustainable Infrastructure
Available from: 2015-08-11 Created: 2015-08-06 Last updated: 2015-08-11Bibliographically approved

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