The Environmental Profile of Ecuadorian Export Banana: A Life Cycle Assessment
Ecuador is one of the largest banana exporters in the world. This sector generates wealth and employment in the country. Life cycle method tools support finding critical points and improvement measures in systems. In this study, the Ecuadorian banana is evaluated through life cycle assessment (LCA), including agriculture, packaging, transfer to the Port of Guayaquil, and transport to a foreign port. OpenLCA software was used, applying the Recipe Midpoint (H) V1.13 impact evaluation method and using primary data collected from a local producer and secondary data from Ecoinvent 3.6 databases, Agribalyse 3.0.1, and the literature. Functional units were established at three levels: &ldquo;1 ton of Banana at-the-farm-gate&rdquo;; &ldquo;1 ton of Banana at-the-packaging-stage-gate&rdquo;; and &ldquo;1 ton of Banana at-the-port-of-destination&rdquo;. The impact categories evaluated are climate change (GWP100), fossil depletion (FDP), freshwater eutrophication (FEP), marine eutrophication (MEP), ozone layer depletion (ODPinf), particulate matter formation (PMFP), formation of photochemical oxidants (POFP), and terrestrial acidification (TAP100). The carbon footprint (GWP100) of &ldquo;Banana at-the-farm-gate&rdquo;, &ldquo;Banana at-the-packaging-stage-gate&rdquo;, and &ldquo;Banana at-the-foreign-port&rdquo; ranged from 194 to 220, 342 to 352, and 615.41 to 625.44 kg CO2-Eq/Ton banana, respectively. Hotspots of the system are the fertilizer field emissions, cardboard packaging, rachis disposal, and maritime transport. Improvement measures should focus on reducing the amount of fertilizers and developing circular alternatives for residual biomass valorization.