Flower Industry Carbon Footprint

Goals

To understand the carbon footprint of the global flower industry, specifically as it relates to airplanes delivering flowers to distributors around the world.

Early Findings

  • According to an article at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), about 30 cargo planes fly from Colombia to Miami every day during the three weeks leading up to Valentine's Day.
  • The ICCT article calculates that flying 4 billion flowers (200,000 metric tons) from Colombia to Miami "burns 114 million liters of fuel and emits approximately 360,000 metric tons of CO2," and that does not include flower packaging to protect the product en route.
  • A similar flight from Colombia to Tokyo increases the carbon footprint by 600%.
  • The refrigerated trucks that move these flowers from Miami to other parts of North America add additional environmental damage as these trucks use 25% more fuel than a non-refrigerated truck.
  • Even when the flowers are produced domestically, the climate and conditions may require energy-consuming processes, such as heating greenhouses during a freeze in California.
  • Flowers grown near the equator have a lower carbon footprint than those grown in places where artificial light and heat are required to grow them, but the transportation costs to move them from an equatorial country to another country evens out the carbon footprint playing field.
  • Temperature control for refrigerated trucks accounts for 40% of CO2 emissions.
  • A flight from Miami to Vancouver produces 0.66 tons of CO2 emissions.
  • Airplanes produced 895 million tons of CO2 in 2018.

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS RELATED TO GOALS

Our initial research has identified some data related to the floral industry's carbon footprint, as well as some general information about the carbon emissions related to refrigerated trucks, as well as flights from Miami to Vancouver. Many articles point back to the studies outlined in our early findings. However, we did not have time to fully explore the comparison of these modes of transportation.

Proposed next steps:

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