Frameworks, Strategies and Tools
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Edited by M. A. Quaddus and M. A.B. Siddique
Chapter 6: Environmental Supply Chain Management in Australian Grain Industries: A Life Cycle Assessment Approach
Wahidul K. Biswas, Michele B. John, Peter J. Batt and John D. Noonan INTRODUCTION Australia faces major environmental and natural resource management challenges including shortages of clean and accessible water, degradation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, increasing soil erosion, changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere and the possibility of important changes in climate (Rodriguez et al., 2003; Gunningham, 2007). These changes are generally a direct result of economic activities. Many are recent and profound, and many are accelerating. Given its use in food, fodder and industrial raw material applications, grain production is one of the most important agricultural activities of Australia. The Australian grain industry1 produces 30–40 million tonnes per annum (CRC Plant Bio-security, 2007) of which approximately 65 per cent is exported. Earning around $6 billion per annum, Australian grain exports are expected to double in the next ten years (CRC Plant Bio-security, 2007). Furthermore, opportunities for the production of ethanol for fuel is expected to increase dramatically (Webb, 2007), creating further challenges for the Australian grain industry to meet increasing food demands. The grain industry is a major contributor to Australia’s economic growth, however, the environmental externalities are seldom accounted for. The main greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted from agriculture are methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Both are major greenhouse gases with 21 times and 310 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2) respectively. Nationally, agriculture is the dominant emitter of both methane (60 per cent) and nitrous oxide (85 per cent). Anthropogenic activities,...
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