The socio-economic impacts of introducing circular economy into Mediterranean rice production
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Cleaner Production. 2019, 218 273-283. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.01.334
A novel bio-fertilizer technology that utilizing paddy rice residues (bran and husk) through composting was assessed in the context of life cycle assessment application to circular bio-economy. The bio-fertilizer can recycle the nutrients in residues to replace synthetic fertilizer within the rice production system. To evaluate the feasibility and potential benefits of this circular rice production system, a hybrid life cycle assessment model was developed to estimate social-economic impact. The model combined the multi-regional input-output database (Exiobase), with engineering process data of conventional and circular rice production systems from the Agrocycle project. The gross value added and employment in each system were compared at functional unit and sectoral level. The results indicated the efficiency of fertilizer application has a significant effect on social-economic impacts. The circular system has the potential to increase the gross value added and employment in conventional rice production, but the circular rice system could not improve both economic and social impacts at the same time. The results indicated the circular system did not necessarily achieve more positive social-economic impacts than the convention linear system. Considering the circularity and efficient use of resources, the bio-fertilizer technology should not be dismissed. To derive better social-economic performance from the circular rice supply chain, further developments are required, such as technology development to reduce unit production cost and infrastructure development to support bio-fertilizer production.