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Sustainability, Vol. 10, Pages 542: A Regional Analysis of the Life Cycle Environmental and Economic Tradeoffs of Different Economic Growth Paths

Sustainability doi: 10.3390/su10020542

Authors: Weiwei Mo Darline Balen Marianna Moura Kevin H. Gardner

Different economic development strategies may result in varied socioeconomic and environmental synergies or tradeoffs, suggesting an opportunity for environmentally conscious planning. To understand such synergies or tradeoffs, a dynamic environmental life cycle assessment was conducted for eleven groups of New Hampshire industries. Historical state level Gross Domestic Product (GDP)-by-industry data was combined with economic input-output analysis to calculate the direct and life cycle energy use, freshwater use, greenhouse gas emissions, and eutrophication potential of each industry on a yearly basis for the period of 1997–2012. The future development of agriculture, traditional manufacturing, high tech, and tourism industries were investigated based on government projections. Total life cycle impacts of the 11 industries were found to represent around three to seven times those of direct impacts, indicating the significance of the supply chain impacts. Traditional manufacturing has the highest life cycle impacts even though it contributes to less than 10% of the state GDP. Future development of high tech was found to be the best strategy to increase GDP while imposing the least additional environmental impacts. Tourism presents relatively high impacts in terms of freshwater use and eutrophication potential, and a change in recreational style might be able to reduce its impacts.

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Sustainability, Vol. 10, Pages 539: Analyzing the Effects of Car Sharing Services on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions

Sustainability doi: 10.3390/su10020539

Authors: Jiyeon Jung Yoonmo Koo

This study examines the environmental impacts of roundtrip car sharing services by investigating transportation behavior. Car sharing should contribute to reduced greenhouse gas GHG emissions; however, such schemes include both positive and negative environmental effects, including: (1) reduced CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) from substituting private vehicle use for more fuel-efficient car sharing vehicles, (2) increased CO2e as car-less individuals switch from public transit to car sharing vehicles and (3) reduced CO2e due to fewer vehicles. This study examines the impacts of this modal shift on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions using three types of models: a mixed logit model to analyze car sharing service preferences; a binary logit model to analyze whether individuals are willing to forgo vehicle ownership or planned purchases to use car sharing services; and a linear regression to determine how much private vehicle or public transportation use would be replaced by car sharing and the resulting effects on mobility. Total emissions from the current car sharing market equal 1,025,589.36 t CO2e/year. However, an increase in electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to 50% of the number of gasoline-fuel stations would increase the probability of electric car sharing vehicle use, thereby reducing emissions by 655,773 t CO2e. This study shows that forgoing vehicle purchases does not offset the increased GHG emissions caused by the shift from public transportation or private vehicle use to car sharing.

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Sustainability, Vol. 10, Pages 537: The Short-Term Effects of Rice Straw Biochar, Nitrogen and Phosphorus Fertilizer on Rice Yield and Soil Properties in a Cold Waterlogged Paddy Field

Sustainability doi: 10.3390/su10020537

Authors: Linlin Si Yinan Xie Qingxu Ma Lianghuan Wu

Crop productivity in cold waterlogged paddy fields can be constrained by chronic flooding stress and low temperature. Farmers typically use chemical fertilizer to improve crop production, but this conventional fertilization is not very effective in a cold waterlogged paddy field. Biochar amendment has been proposed as a promising management approach to eliminating these obstacles. However, little is known about the performance of biochar when combined with N fertilizer and P fertilizer in cold waterlogged soils. The aim of this study was, therefore, to assess the main effects and interactive effects of rice straw biochar, N and P fertilizer on rice growth and soil properties in a cold waterlogged paddy field. The field treatments consisted of a factorial combination of two biochar levels (0 and 2.25 t ha−1), two N fertilizer levels (120.0 and 180.0 kg ha−1) and two P fertilizer levels (37.5 and 67.5 kg ha−1) which were arranged in a randomized block design, with three replicates. Results confirmed that biochar application caused a significant increase in the soil pH due to its liming effect, while this application resulted in a significant decrease in soil exchangeable cations, such as exchangeable Ca, Mg, Al and base cations. The interactive effect of N fertilizer, P fertilizer and biochar was significant for soil total N. Moreover, a negative effect of biochar on the internal K use efficiency suggested that K uptake into rice may benefit from biochar application. According to the partial Eta squared values, the combined application of N fertilizer and biochar was as effective as pure P fertilization at increasing straw P uptake. The addition of biochar to farmers’ fertilization practice treatment (180.0 kg N ha−1, 67.5 kg P2O5 ha−1 and 67.5 kg K2O ha−1) significantly increased rice yield, mainly owing to improvements in grains per panicle. However, notable effects of biochar on rice yield and biomass production were not detected. More studies are required to assess the long-term behavior of biochar in a cold waterlogged paddy field. This study may lay a theoretical foundation for blended application of biochar with fertilizer in a cold waterlogged paddy field.

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Sustainability, Vol. 10, Pages 540: Actual and Balanced Stand Structure: Examples from Beech-Fir-Spruce Old-Growth Forests in the Area of the Dinarides in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sustainability doi: 10.3390/su10020540

Authors: Zoran Govedar Milun Krstić Srđan Keren Violeta Babić Brane Zlokapa Branko Kanjevac

Old-growth forests are spontaneously developed forest ecosystems without direct human influence in which only natural processes take place. In this study we analyzed the structural sustainability of beech-fir-spruce old-growth forests on dolomite and limestone in the Bosnian Dinaric Mountains. The field work was carried out on permanent experimental plots of 1.0 hectare in size. Thereby, the diameters (d1.30) and the height (h) of all trees within the plots were measured. Based on the available literature, we hypothesized that the structure of old-growth forests provides sustainability through tree-size demographic equilibrium. Thus, the data collected were used to test possible differences between the actual and the theoretically balanced structure in the studied old-growth forests. Statistically significant difference in the actual structure between the two old-growth forests on limestone and dolomite was determined. However, both of them exhibited sustainable diameter distributions. These results point to the importance of preserving old-growth forests for future research as they exemplify the tree-size demographic sustainability and can thus serve as an appropriate reference to managed forests. Concretely, certain structural attributes from old-growth forests could be embedded into the management objectives for increased resilience of managed forests.

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Sustainability, Vol. 10, Pages 538: Family Businesses Transitioning to a Circular Economy Model: The Case of “Mercadona”

Sustainability doi: 10.3390/su10020538

Authors: Pedro Núñez-Cacho Valentín Molina-Moreno Francisco A. Corpas-Iglesias Francisco J. Cortés-García

Sustainability addresses environmental and social issues affecting this and future generations. When family businesses perceive that the community is disrupted, recognize an environmental problem and respond by implementing new environmental policies or regulations, the family business’s socio-emotional values press to transition to a more sustainable production system, such as the ‘Circular Economy.’ Drawing on the Dubin (1978) methodology—a paradigm for building models through deduction—we design a sustainable model, which shows family businesses’ responses to changes in the environment. It explains the reasons why family firms transition to the Circular Economy, based on the theory of Socio-Emotional Wealth (SEW). We check the model through the case study of the food retail leader in the Spanish market—Mercadona—which applies policies about energy, resources and waste to become a Circular Economy business model. Because of the strong family character of Mercadona, this case can be useful for the decision-making of other family businesses.

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Sustainability, Vol. 10, Pages 536: Recent Progress in Perennial Buckwheat Development

Sustainability doi: 10.3390/su10020536

Authors: Qing-Fu Chen Xiao-Yan Huang Hong-You Li Li-Juan Yang Ya-Song Cui

Grains in the genus Fagopyrum have benefits to human health and are an excellent gluten-free raw material. Of all cereal foods, this genus has the highest total content of amino-acid nutrients necessary for humans; nutrients that are resistant to digestion (protein and starch) resulting in their sustained release; higher dietary fiber content than key cereals, and is rich in a special healthy ingredient (flavonoids). Fagopyrum includes 24 species of which five are perennial. Among them, golden buckwheat (F.cymosum complex) is the most important perennial buckwheat, which is not only used in Chinese medicine, but also has great potential in healthy food crop. In order to provide some clues for perennial crop studies and their industry development, this paper presents the state of perennial buckwheat research in terms of taxonomy; natural chemical products and pharmacological and health functions; genetics and evolution; breeding; and product development and utilization. The great advances such as successful interspecific crossing and its subsequent new perennial buckwheat varieties will speed up the development of the perennial buckwheat industry.

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Sustainability, Vol. 10, Pages 541: Impact of Sustainability Balanced Scorecard Types on Environmental Investment Decision-Making

Sustainability doi: 10.3390/su10020541

Authors: Suaad Jassem Anna Azmi Zarina Zakaria

Investment decision-making based on aspects of sustainability is gaining importance among organizations around the globe. In this context, there is a need for quality investment decisions, which require sufficient knowledge among organizational managers about managing sustainability information to achieve environmental objectives that meet stakeholder expectations. This has led to the emergence of organizational performance measuring tools such as the Sustainability Balanced Scorecard, which integrates the environmental perspective into the traditional Balanced Scorecard. Using experimental research method, the objective of this study is to investigate the indirect effect of Eco-efficiency knowledge and Sustainability Balanced Scorecard knowledge as mediators influencing the relationship between Sustainability Balanced Scorecard types and their impact on environmental investment decision-making. Findings of the current research are based on 60 respondents who were randomly assigned to one of the following two types of Sustainability Balanced Scorecard architecture: (1) environmental data embedded within the traditional Balanced Scorecard perspectives; and (2) standalone environmental data as an additional fifth perspective along with the traditional Balanced Scorecard architecture. The traditional Balanced Scorecard without any information on environmental perspective is included in the experiment as the control condition. The findings indicate that the combined effect of eco-efficiency knowledge and Sustainability Balanced Scorecard knowledge has a significant positive influence on the relationship between the Balanced Scorecard type versus Sustainability Balanced Scorecard type and environmental investment decision-making.

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Sustainability, Vol. 10, Pages 535: An Assessment Tool to Integrate Sustainability Principles into the Global Supply Chain

Sustainability doi: 10.3390/su10020535

Authors: María Jesús Muñoz-Torres María Ángeles Fernández-Izquierdo Juana M. Rivera-Lirio Idoya Ferrero-Ferrero Elena Escrig-Olmedo José Vicente Gisbert-Navarro María Chiara Marullo

The integration of sustainability principles into the assessment of companies along the supply chains is a growing research area. However, there is an absence of a generally accepted method to evaluate corporate sustainability performance (CSP), and the models and frameworks proposed by the literature present various important challenges to be addressed. A systematic literature review on the supply chain at the corporate level has been conducted, analyzing the main strengths and gaps in the sustainability assessment literature. Therefore, this paper aims to contribute to the development of this field by proposing an assessment framework a leading company can adopt to expand sustainability principles to the rest of the members of the supply chain. This proposal is based on best practices and integrates and shares efforts with key initiatives (for instance, the Organizational Environmental Footprint from the European Commission and United Nations Environment Programme and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry UNEP/SETAC); moreover, it overcomes important limitations of the current sustainability tools in a supply chain context consistent with the circular economy, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), planetary boundaries, and social foundation requirements. The results obtained create, on the one hand, new opportunities for academics; and, on the other hand, in further research, the use of this framework could be a means of actively engaging companies in their supply chains and of achieving the implementation of practical and comprehensive CSP assessment.

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Sustainability, Vol. 10, Pages 531: A Spatial Decision Support System Framework for the Evaluation of Biomass Energy Production Locations: Case Study in the Regional Unit of Drama, Greece

Sustainability doi: 10.3390/su10020531

Authors: Ioannou Konstantinos Tsantopoulos Georgios Arabatzis Garyfallos Andreopoulou Zacharoula Zafeiriou Eleni

Renewable Energy Sources are expected to play a very important role in energy production in the following years. They constitute an energy production methodology which, if properly enabled, can ensure energy sufficiency as well as the protection of the environment. Energy production from biomass in particular is a very common method, which exploits a variety of resources (wood and wood waste, agricultural crops and their by-products after cultivation, animal wastes, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and food processing wastes) for the production of energy. This paper presents a Spatial Decision Support System, which enables managers to locate the most suitable areas for biomass power plant installation. For doing this, fuzzy logic and fuzzy membership functions are used for the creation of criteria layers and suitability maps. In this paper, we use a Multicriteria Decision Analysis methodology (Analytical Hierarchy Process) combined with fuzzy system elements for the determination of the weight coefficients of the participating criteria. Then, based on the combination of fuzzy logic and theAnalytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), a final proposal is created thatdivides the area into four categories regarding their suitability forsupporting a biomass energy production power plant. For the two optimal locations, the biomass is also calculated.The framework is applied to theRegional Unit of Drama, which is situated in Northern Greece and is very well known for the area’s forest and agricultural production.

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Sustainability, Vol. 10, Pages 533: A Hybrid Approach to Explore the Risk Dependency Structure among Agribusiness Firms

Sustainability doi: 10.3390/su10020533

Authors: Zhimei Lei Kuo-Jui Wu Li Cui Ming K Lim

Although the risk management of agricultural firms is important, studies on the extreme risk dependence among agribusiness firms are minimal due to the diversity and complexity of the risks faced by agricultural firms. In this study, we developed a hybrid approach to analyse and uncover the potential risk dependence among agricultural firms. We examined thirty-two agricultural companies to study their dependence structure for risk losses. Three primary findings emerged. First, risk dependence is strong with an average value of 0.96. Second, the dependence structure is hierarchical and includes two network communities. Third, some key agricultural firms were identified in the dependence structure. These key firms are critical for the transmission of negative impacts across agricultural firms. Correspondingly, we suggest measures and strategies (such as improving the level of technological innovation and joint risk resistance capability) to reduce the impact of risk dependence.

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