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Hub research shows environmental impact of plastic tree shelters in new publication

A new study featuring research by the Plastic Waste Innovation Hub has been published in Science of The Total Environment. 'The Environmental Performance of Protecting Seedlings with Plastic Tree Shelters for Afforestation in Temperate Oceanic Regions: a UK Case Study' (also available for download below) presents a comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) comparing the environmental performance of shelter-aided seedling planting versus tree shelter-free planting. The study focuses on the UK, but results and conclusions are valid for other temperate oceanic regions. The scenarios investigated are a combination of different shelters materials and end-of-life (EoL) strategies. Our analysis demonstrates that (i) planting seedling without shelters is the most preferable option across most environmental impact categories (including Climate Change), and in terms of weighted results, (ii) polypropylene shelters are preferable to bio-based alternatives, including polylactic acid-starch blends and bio-polypropylene, (iii) recycling is the most environmentally advantageous EoL treatment. Our study also shows that that the carbon emissions of the scenarios investigated are negligible when compared to the amount of carbon sequestered by a tree in 25 years.

Download Chau etal2021 Tree Shelters Preprint
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